To continue the discussion of where children spend their non-home hours, we consult a Frequently Asked Questions page issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Packed with information, it concerns childcare programs and schools, and was updated just days ago.
Parents want to know when it is appropriate to seek out COVID-19 testing for their children. The answer is,
Schools should determine, in collaboration with state, tribal, local, and territorial health officials, whether to implement any testing strategy, and if so, how to best do so. In the case of K-12 schools operated by the federal government (e.g., K-12 schools for Department of Defense dependents), schools should also collaborate with the host nation, local military installation, and federal public health officials.
So, more than a dozen institutions are eligible to potentially be involved in the decision about any one child being tested for the virus or not. The offered guidance is exemplary for a country invested in freedom, but not very hopeful in a practical sense. For the guidelines that school nurses and community healthcare providers are asked to follow, see “Information for Pediatric Healthcare Providers” and “Strategies for Protecting K-12 School Staff from COVID-19.”
For those holdouts who still opine otherwise, the CDC declares adamantly that children can catch COVID-19, which can make them sick, and sometimes (not often) can make them very sick indeed. And even if they show no signs of sickness, they can still carry the virus around and share it with others. The advisory notes, of course, that children with underlying medical conditions (like obesity and its many co-morbidities) are at particular risk.
How should schools handle case investigation and contact tracing?
As was previously mentioned, some experts believe that when the disease affects more than 10 cases per 100,000 people, any attempt at the endeavor known as “contact tracing” is doomed to futility. There are issues of geography, person-power, financing, political clout, and so on, as well as the various legal angles.
Americans, depending on who and where they are, have many rights. While “some jurisdictions allow for individuals as young as 12 to answer medical and public health-related questions,” the attempt to collect information can be a minefield. Here is the CDC’s caveat:
K-12 schools should consult with public health officials and legal counsel to determine how best to conduct case investigations and contact tracing… According to state, tribal, local, and territorial legal parameters, some K-12 schools and health departments may need to obtain consent from parents, caregivers, or guardians for activities conducted with some or all minors, and students with disabilities.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “K-12 Schools and Child Care Programs,” CDC.gov, 01/25/21
Image by Quinn Dombrowski