Allergies or coronavirus? Why Bay Area schools' crackdown on COVID is frustrating parents

With allergies and wildfire smoke also factors, it's hard to tell if children should really be pulled out of class.

Lyanne Melendez Image
Friday, August 20, 2021
Why schools' crackdown on COVID is frustrating parents
Bay Area schools are being cautious when it comes to spotting COVID symptoms, but with allergies and wildfire smoke, it's hard to tell which is which.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Is it allergies or is it coronavirus? Parents with school kids are waking up to a new reality. Any mild symptoms, the sniffles for example, can potentially take your kids out of school. That's because, understandably so, schools are being hyper sensitive around COVID-19.

RELATED: Demand grows for COVID vaccine approval for kids under 12 as school begins

Just last Friday, as San Francisco Unified was preparing to reopen for in-person learning, the school district and health department gave parents multiple warnings.

"We all need to take care of each other, so it's critical that if you have any symptoms, stay home," expressed San Francisco Unified Superintendent, Dr. Vincent Matthews, as he toured one of the schools.

"So even a mild runny nose can constitute Delta and so it's really important that children are tested if they have symptoms," added San Francisco Deputy Health Director, Dr. Naveena Bobba.

VIDEO: 1st COVID, now wildfire smoke plagues return to school for Bay Area students

Bay Area schools were already worried about the possible spreading of coronavirus. Now, wildfire fire smoke is part of the mix.

The question is, how many parents have sent their kids to school feeling a little under the weather, thinking its ok because we can't stay home and have to go to work? But that's not going to fly anymore, not now as schools are being hyper sensitive because of COVID.

The scenario is somewhat frustrating for parents. Since teachers can't really distinguish between symptoms caused by allergies, smoke in the air, or COVID, the kid gets pulled out of school, gets tested again and may end up at home a lot.

That's what Maegon Van Arsdale is now going through. A student in her son's class tested positive on the first day of school. Her son was told to stay home and got tested this morning.

"If you've been in a room with a student more than 15 minutes everybody may have been exposed to it so they want to take precautions and tell the student to stay at home and quarantine in case any symptoms appear but the thing is the kid is missing school," explained Van Arsdale.

RELATED: SoCal school district to become 1st in Calif. to require COVID vaccinations for students 12 and up

The guidelines are set by the San Francisco Department of Health.

"We need to be vigilant. This is a new time in terms of in-person learning but our team stands ready to assist the school district," said the San Francisco Director of Public Health, Dr. Grant Colfax.

For the older kids, having to quarantine will depend on their vaccination status and their proximity to other students. Still, schools are requiring that every child self screen at home everyday.

But the best thing parents can do is to have a plan like, who's going to do the pickup and where to take the child to be tested, if and every time they get that call.

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