Testing backlog causing problems for parents keeping kids home from school
KITCHENER -- A backlog for tests is putting pressure on parents keeping their kids home from school over COVID-19 concerns.
The province is now considering changes to school guidelines for symptoms.
Nicole Perez is almost one week into her son's isolation period after he developed a runny nose last Friday.
"If there wasn't COVID, his symptoms are so mild I would've sent him to school without a second thought, because they are such mild symptoms that kids have all the time," she said.
Under school guidelines, her five-year-old either needs to get a COVID-19 test of self-isolate for two weeks.
"I didn't think I could take him and my other two children to wait in line all day, only to get turned away," Perez said.
The Waterloo Catholic District School Board said absenteeism has increased this fall. The WCDSB said dozens of students are missing classes every day, but didn't provide any specific data/
The local union representing the public school board said absenteeism is also notable at the Waterloo Region District School Board.
"I know from talking to individual teachers, some are having a couple of students that are out for a period of time and others are reporting six to 10 students out, so that's a significant portion of a class," said Greg Weiler with the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario Waterloo Region.
Minister of Education Stephen Lecce is now considering changing what's included in the symptom list for students, following a similar move in British Columbia. In that province, kids are asked to stay home if they have a fever, chills, cough or shortness of breath. However, they can go to school if they have a sore throat, headaches, feel fatigued or have a runny nose.
"We will look to refine our systems and practices to make sure it is evidence informed and ultimately reflects the reality on the ground," Lecce said.
"We have hired over 500 public health nurses that are going to be working in our schools that are going to be able to help with some of the symptom management and issues to determine whether a child has simply the sniffles or whether it's something that is more complicated like the flu or ultimately COVID-19, to determine if they need to be tested," Minister of Health Christine Elliot said.
Perez said she may change her child's learning mode if this comes up again.
"It's frustrating and it feels like it's dragging on forever, but we are just trying to do the right thing and we want to do our part," she said.