Keeping illness on the down-low. Could this be what we should expect going into the future?

Prior to 2020, the usual protocol was if your kid was sick from school, you'd keep them home while keeping everyone in the loop. Once they felt better, you'd send them back.

And if symptoms were very minimal, such as a minor sore throat, you might've still sent them in. Even a slight runny nose wasn't much cause for concern.

Then, 2020 arrived and all of that changed. What used to be considered not a big deal was suddenly a reason to miss up to a week of school while being cooped up entirely (After we were past the days of virtual schooling, that is).

Fast forward to today, and we're mostly back to our usual ways. Once again minor symptoms might be disregarded as nothing major and we send our kids into the classroom anyway.

School classroom in Japanese high school

And let's face it, school is a place germs get around quickly. Always has been and always will be, especially with the younger kids.

Another good thing about schools today is that the reported COVID cases are not nearly as high as they once were. Sure, maybe there's a handful or so cases, but that's about it.

With that said, we're also hearing that COVID is on the rise once again. So how can reported cases be so low in schools if the illness is starting to spread at a higher rate?

The reason might simply be this. Parents are opting not to report cases anymore if their kid comes down with it.

An illustration depicting a group of viruses on a dark background.

I was wondering about this very topic when my friend's kid got sick with COVID and decided to ask him and other parents in the surrounding area about reported cases in their schools. Overall, it didn't seem like too big of a deal to them.

Then I decided to ask the parents if they would report it to the school if their kid got sick with COVID. Although some said yes, most said no. And for those that said no, it became pretty clear why.

Apparently, some New Jersey schools still treat COVID as a much bigger deal than perhaps other illnesses. And for some parents who did report their kids sick with COVID, here are the general reasons why they might not do that again in the future.


It's a minor case

In some instances, you might not even know you have COVID unless you tested. Symptoms might also mirror what you'd expect for the common cold.

Or, perhaps maybe mirror something like allergies. Usually in this situation, you'd simply treat it like a cold.

And that's what some New Jersey parents do. They keep their kid at home, and if they feel better and test negative, they send them back.

In this situation, it's really more about common sense. In other words, it's the way we used to handle any illness without overly complicated policies in place.

Maksim Pasko
Maksim Pasko

Missing too much school

Some schools still have protocols that go over the top if a child tests positive for COVID. Even if it's minor like the situation above, the child might have to miss a good week or so of school at the minimum... possibly longer.

Even if your kid tests negative early on, they might still be forced to wait out that time. What's more, a doctor's note might also be required even when a doctor's visit isn't warranted.

Being we have treatments today as well as vaccines, it seems a bit silly to keep the old COVID protocol in place that we had through 2022. Common sense goes a long way.

Michele Ursi GettyImages
Michele Ursi GettyImages

Forced masks

Yes, the masking in schools is still a thing. Upon your kid's return to school after being sick, they may be forced to wear a mask for several more days.

It again all stems back to how we used to treat it versus the realities of today. Some school policies on COVID require this, even if it seems completely unnecessary now.

And it's a concern some parents have. If their kid is feeling fine and tests negative, there's no reason to be forced to wear it and become a target for the other kids.

CVS sign for COVID and flu shots
CVS sign for COVID and flu shots (Dan Alexander, Townsquare Media)

Panic doesn't happen over other illnesses

If your kid has something like the flu, quite clearly they're not going to school. Nor would they go to school if they did test positive for COVID.

One big difference though is how each illness is treated. If you had the flu, odds are there wouldn't be a set number of days your kid would have to be out.

And upon their return, they most likely wouldn't be forced to wear a mask. Both are illnesses but are treated very differently.

Sleeping in bed

What to do

Look, if your kid is sick, they should stay home. That's how it used to be and how it should remain.

If you want to be certain if it's COVID or not, go ahead and do the test. If it's positive, even faintly, you should keep your child at home until they test negative for at least a day.

But if you're worried about the hoops you'd have to jump through if you report it, you shouldn't be blamed for feeling that way. At the minimum, tell the school your kid isn't feeling well and you'd like them to stay home for now.

At least then you're doing your part in helping keep others healthy without feeling like you'll be forced to follow unnecessary protocols.

COVID / Illness / Keeping quiet at school

As for the schools?

Perhaps it's time to drop the over-the-top COVID protocols. We're in a much better place than we were even a year ago so there's no need to keep treating it like it's 2022, 2021, or 2020.

Plus, sometimes the flu might be worse, and all illnesses have the potential to spread. It's going to happen no matter what we do.

All the reasons mentioned above are why some New Jersey parents stay quiet about it, and you really can't blame them. They don't want their kid to be singled out or have to miss an unnecessary amount of school.

Please trust the parents that they'll make the right decisions and will know when the time is right to send their child back. Common sense really does go a long way.

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The above post reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 Sunday morning host Mike Brant. Any opinions expressed are his own.

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