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Pediatrician urges parents to use caution alongside the guidelines as school returns amid COVID surge

Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 9:58 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - TrustCare Kids has been slammed in the last few days with COVID cases. And that’s even without all the area schools being back in session.

So, they want to help parents navigate the ever-changing guidelines.

Every school’s COVID policies differ and some are telling us they even plan to update them in the coming days to reflect CDC guidance. Here’s what State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said in Friday’s briefing.

“We’ve been reviewing those and we are working on updating our guidance now and we’ll be meeting with them, with schools, next week to begin those dialogues and work with them in order to try to prevent transmission and spread,” noted Byers.

We went straight to a pediatrician to sort through what parents need to know.

“I tell the parents that it is confusing, it’s even confusing for me,” said TrustCare Kids pediatrician Dr. Catherine Phillippi. “I try to individualize my recommendations based on what I know about the illness and how it’s presenting in their family. And then incorporating the CDC guidelines into that.”

First let’s look at the terminology. Isolation is for people with confirmed COVID. Quarantine is different. That’s staying home after exposure to avoid potential spread.

Latest CDC guidance for K-12 schools says this is who needs to quarantine for five days after close contact: Those who are 18 and older and are vaccinated but not yet boosted or are unvaccinated.

It says no quarantine needed if they’re fully vaccinated (which includes booster dose if 18 and older) or had confirmed COVID in the last 90 days.

But here’s the deal, Dr. Catherine Phillippi says some common sense has to come into play when figuring out what to do.

“I think you have to be conscientious during those five days strict mask wearing, if you’re not going to quarantine or test,” she said.

So, what do you do if your child is exposed but vaccinated?

“For sure, if schools are not going to adjust with the spike, parents are going to have to step up and say despite the fact that my school would allow my child back, I know that they had a close contact and I’m gonna keep them home for five days and we’re gonna make sure about taking them on day five to be tested,” added Phillippi. “And we’re gonna wear our masks for 10 days.”

Bottom line, Dr. Phillippi says to err on the side of caution, especially during this surge.

For example, she says vaccinated kids are not testing positive in the first few days after exposure but do a few days later. So, be aware of that.