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Coughs and colds

We know people cough for a number of reasons and not all are Covid related. Children and staff will get coughs and colds over the coming months and we will have to deal with this.

 

Understandably, this can cause confusion on what parents should do in these circumstances. Nor do we want children (or their parents) to feel stigmatised for coming to school when there is no reason for them to stay at home.

 

Current NHS advice says that children with minor coughs and colds can attend school unless they have a fever (high temperature). This may come as a surprise.

 

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/is-my-child-too-ill-for-school/

 

However, we can see why this may cause confusion because a cough can be a symptom of coronavirus.

Both NHS and government guidance specifies the type of cough to look out for :

 

If anyone in the school becomes unwell with a new and persistent cough or a high temperature, or has a loss of or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia), they must be sent home.

                                                                         Guidance for Schools, Sept 2020

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools

 

The critical words are new and persistent. We appreciate this may or may not help but if we sent home everyone who coughs, the school would soon close because we would not have enough staff to operate.

Instead, we need to consider each child on a case by case basis using the government and NHS guidance that defines a new and persistent cough :

 

  • new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

 

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works#people-who-develop-symptoms-of-coronavirus

 

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/symptoms/coronavirus-in-children/

 

A further occasion where a child or member of staff may have a cough and return to school for example is outlined in the guidance.

 

This is where the infection has gone but the cough remains :

 

If someone tests positive, they should follow the guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and must continue to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of their symptoms and then return to school only if they do not have symptoms other than a cough or loss of sense of smell/taste. This is because a cough or anosmia can last for several weeks once the infection has gone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Guidance for Schools, Sept 2020

 

For obvious reasons, we do not disclose which children or adults have tested positive and have returned to school.

 

We are sure you can appreciate, the coming months will be a minefield and we have only just started to tip toe through.

 

Our intention is not to sow further confusion but to reassure parents that we carefully consider each child’s symptoms on a case by case basis .

 

Summary

  • If a child is well enough to attend school, even with a minor cold, they can attend school but seek advice if there is any doubt.

 

  • Not all coughing is Covid related.

 

  • If a child has a high temperature (38C+ based on latest NHS guidance), persistent new cough or loss of taste/smell or if there is any doubt, they should stay at home and be tested.

 

  • A persistent new cough is one where a person coughs a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if a person usually has a cough, it may be worse than usual).

 

  • If in doubt, please contact the school to discuss and keep your child at home.

 

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