MUSC Children’s Health discusses school in the time of COVID-19

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) held an online forum for parents and the public on what to know ahead of school re-openings. The online event was a personal one for both the parents that tuned into the WebEx meeting as well as the Director who led it, Dr. Eckard.

The Medical University’s Division Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases said that she too is planning on sending both of her children back to school in-person. She even added that it does scare her to think of it and said to parents on the call that they are not alone, and this decision is not easy. 

However, according to Dr. Eckard, reopening will not be fool-proof, and there will be outbreaks at schools — but so far, children have had good recovery odds.  

Our admissions for children have been very low and a lot of those kids, I will tell you because I met a lot of them, were there because COVID kicked their underlying conditions kind of out of whack — say for example diabetes — and not because they actually had issues related to COVID. Though some did but so far they all recovered.  

Dr. Allison Ross Eckard, Division Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases 

As for what precautions should be taken, Dr. Eckard says that face masks are essential: 

This should be… a fundamental part of schools’ reopening plans. The age at which you start this can vary and it depends on a school’s decision. I think by about 2nd or 3rd grade it should be mandatory for all children with a few exceptions.

Dr. Allison Ross Eckard, Division Director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases 

Dr. Eckard said that spacing children out and contact tracing, though difficult, will play a huge role as well:

“Physical distancing measures are huge…We have to rely on our mitigation strategies and people staying at home if they’ve been exposed or if they’ve been sick. This is not perfect but this is the reality of where we’re at.”

When it comes to deciding what is best for your child, the experts say that overall, it will be dependent on your individual circumstance and what your specific school is doing to keep your children safe. And if you’re unsure as to what your school will be doing, Nurse Practitioner Tiffin Lamoreaux suggests asking questions to schools directly.  

How is the school managing daily cleaning verses sanitizing verses disinfecting—who’s going to be responsible for doing those activities—how often will they be done? You can ask what guidelines the school is following: for example are they following CDC/DHEC guidance? Are they up to date with what the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending they do? And then you can also ask how positive cases are going to be communicated.  

Tiffin Lamoreaux, Nurse Practitioner  

One of the bottom lines from the event was that in order to keep schools in session and kids safe, have your kids stay home if they are feeling sick—whether it’s due to a cold, the flu, or COVID-19.

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