Cincinnati Children's is actively providing schools with information and expertise related to the health and well-being of children, as well as COVID-19 and precautions that can help slow its spread. 

Reviewed by Felicia Scaggs Huang, MD

Does Cincinnati Children’s support children returning to school in person for the 2020-2021 school year?

We support families making choices that are right for their individual circumstances. We are actively providing schools with information and expertise related to the health and well-being of children, as well as COVID-19 and precautions that can help slow its spread. With distancing, masking, hand hygiene and cleaning practices in place and consistently enforced, we believe the in-school environment can be safe enough for most children to return to in-person learning, if their families make this choice.

How can parents help ease their child’s anxiety for those who are fearful for going back?

It is important to provide structure for children, but also be transparent with them that the structure of school may need to change. School districts will be closely watching and revisiting their procedures especially during the first weeks and months of school to make adjustments if needed. So let your child know things may be done differently at school after the first week, second week, etc., and that’s OK. It can be another learning opportunity for them. 

Should I check my child’s temperature every day before school? 

If your school is asking for daily temperature checks, that is a reasonable screening practice and should be followed. If a student has a fever of 100.4° or higher without any fever-reducing medicine, they must stay home. It is also a good idea to review COVID-19 symptoms and keep your child at home if they have any symptoms. If another member of your family has symptoms, consult your local public health guidelines for next steps.

Should I have my child tested before returning to school? 

Testing all students for COVID-19 prior to the start of school is not feasible in most settings at this time. Even in places where this is possible, it is not clear that such testing would reduce the likelihood of spread within schools. It is important to recognize that testing shows only whether a person is infected at that specific moment. A test can come back negative during the incubation period before symptoms develop, and the person can be contagious just a day or two later. If your child has symptoms at any time, call his or her primary care provider to discuss next steps, which may include scheduling a test.

Should I have my child tested for antibodies before returning to school? 

While we can test for antibodies to COVID-19 that may indicate prior infection, we do not know how long these antibodies last, or if these antibodies provide protection against another COVID-19 infection. At this time, antibody testing is not a useful way to screen students for COVID-19. 

Are a lot of kids in the Cincinnati area currently sick with COVID-19? 

Cincinnati Children’s has been seeing a low number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19, but we are closely watching the increasing levels seen in the Greater Cincinnati adult population.

Is it safe for children to wear masks for full school days?

It will likely take time for kids to get used to wearing masks every day, but, yes, it is safe for them to do so. See tips to help kids get used to masks.