Kids are testing positive for coronavirus, and their parents are sending them to school anyway

kids testing positive for coronavirus
Photo via Alex Starr/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

As school districts nationwide continue to return to in-person learning, health officials have begun to see cases where parents intentionally send their sick children to school after they’ve tested positive for COVID-19. Kids are testing positive for coronavirus, and yet, their parents are still putting them out in society.

In Wisconsin, the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department discovered at least three cases where students showed up for class despite knowing they had COVID-19. 

In an interview with ABC affiliate WISN, Health Department Director Kirsten Johnson expressed shock and disappointment that parents have knowingly sent kids with COVID-19 to school. 

“Something that happened and continued to happen, but happened on the first day of school, which I never in my wildest dreams imagined it would happen, is people sent their known positive kids to school,” Johnson told WISN. “What’s also happening, again not in my wildest dreams thought this would happen, is kids become symptomatic, and parents are refusing to test them because they don’t want to quarantine their siblings.”

Additionally, Johnson said some kids have tried to return to school before their quarantine has finished. 

In a different interview, Johnson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the department has been trying to help school districts contact trace, but it’s been challenging because parents won’t cooperate. 

“I think for us, the biggest challenge for us that we’re experiencing right now is people are just being dishonest,” Johnson said. “They don’t want their children to be quarantined from school. They don’t want to have to miss work. In doing that, they’re jeopardizing the ability to have school in person and other people’s health.”

In response, the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department asked schools to use their attendance software to keep track of which students have COVID-19 or need to be in quarantine, so they don’t continue to be at school when they should stay home. 

Wisconsin is not the only state to see students show up to class with COVID-19. The Washington Post reported that a student in Massachusetts went to school while sick with COVID-19, causing 28 students to go into quarantine. 

CNN reported that an asymptomatic student in Oklahoma knowingly went to school with the virus and exposed 17 peers. He had quarantined for five days and thought that was sufficient—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a 10-day quarantine for asymptomatic individuals.

The Washington County Board Chairman Don Kriefall told WISN that if parents don’t stop being dishonest, the entire school district could close. 

“We’re not going to be able to keep our schools open,” Kriefall told WISN. “It’s going to, I mean, just a few parents that are irresponsible are going to affect the entire school district.” 

As of mid-September, more than 587,000 children have tested positive for COVID-19, according to data collected by the American Academy of Pediatrics. In the first two weeks of September, more than 74,000 new cases were recorded, a 15% increase. From Sept. 1 until mid-October, more than 2,000 New York City children had been infected. But in a Yale University study released in October, researchers showed that placing your kids in child care did not cause more of a risk for catching the virus.

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Sources: WISN, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Washington Post, CNN, AAP

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