If you get the call that your child may have been exposed to COVID-19, being proactive and knowing what to do can help slow the spread of the virus.
First, it’s important to know that you generally need to be exposed – in close contact – to a person who has COVID-19 while they are contagious to get infected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define close contact as:
- Being within 6 feet of a person who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.
- Having direct exposure to respiratory secretions such as being coughed or sneezed on, sharing a drinking glass or utensils or kissing.
What do I do if my child was in close contact with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19?
According to the CDC, the best way to protect your child and others is to have him stay home for 14 days if you think he’s been exposed to someone who has COVID-19. Ohio Department of Health’s website offers information about options to possibly shorten this quarantine period. Additionally, you should:
- Call your child’s primary care provider if you have questions about care and testing.
- Self-monitor for symptoms:
- Check temperature twice a day
- Watch for fever (100.4 F), cough, shortness of breath or other symptoms of COVID-19
- Keep your child in a specific room, away from others, during quarantine at home.
- Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. An infected person can spread COVID-19 starting 48 hours (or 2 days) before the person has any symptoms or tests positive.
- Contact your child’s school to understand when a return to school and activities is allowed.
How to have a difficult, but honest conversation about exposure to COVID-19.
It’s understandable that telling someone about possible exposure to COVID-19 isn’t an easy or fun conversation to have, but it’s necessary to protect one another. For children, it may be embarrassing or overwhelming to tell friends about exposure so parents are encouraged to take the lead to ensure information is shared with others in a timely manner. Remember, this virus is very contagious and can spread asymptomatically (pre-symptoms) to people, even those who take extreme caution.
Be honest and tell your contacts what you know. If you don’t have the answer, like where your child got it from, that’s okay. The conversation should be informative, not combative or judgmental. Urge your contacts to check with their primary care provider for guidance so they can make their own choices about quarantining and getting tested.