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Runny nose? Cold? How long before your kids can return to the classroom?

Last Updated Sep 18, 2020 at 12:43 pm PDT

(Source: iStock)

Children with any symptoms matching COVID-19 need to be isolated and in contact with 8-1-1

Only public health can determine if someone needs a test and if contact tracing is necessary

Kids with non-COVID illness must still wait until symptoms like sniffling and coughing pass before returning to class

NEWS 1130 is working hard to get you the information you need about the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are responding to your questions in a segment we call NEWS 1130 Gets Answers.


Christine asks: “If my child gets a runny nose or common cold, how long until they are allowed back in class? Will transition to online teaching be offered during this time?”


Every Metro Vancouver school district is defaulting to the BC Centre for Disease Control protocols, meaning if your kids are sick, they stay home.

Any student showing symptoms of a cold or flu should stay home and self-monitor for at least 24 hours. During that time, you can seek advice from public health at 811 or a physician or nurse practitioner, who can determine if testing and contact tracing are necessary.

All students must remain at home until they have been cleared of COVID-19 and their symptoms have passed.

“If the staff or student (or their parent) indicates that the symptoms are consistent with a previously diagnosed health condition and are not unusual for that individual, they may return to school. No assessment or note is required from a health care provider,” the BCCDC guidelines state.

“As laid out by the BCCDC, the first step is determining the appropriate assessment required, ranging from staying home and self-monitoring, to seeking an assessment from 811 or a primary care provider, or even the possible recommendation of a COVID test,” says Kristen Keighley-Wight, communications manager with the New Westminster School District.

“If a COVID test is not recommended by the health assessment, a student can return to school when symptoms improve and they feel well enough,” she says.

“New Westminster schools will not require a note from a health care provider in those cases,” adds Keighley-White.

At home supports

While kids are at home, if they are well enough to keep studying, schools say they will be there to help, but many are vague as to what that support looks like.

The West Vancouver School District says students will be supported online through Google Classroom, while students in Burnaby will use Microsoft Teams.

The Sea to Sky School District says for students who are away more than 10 days, parents will “work with your child’s principal to establish an appropriate educational program for the child which may include activating the Transitional program.”

All school districts that replied to NEWS 1130 say they will support “a continuity of learning” but many provided no details.