It's so hard for parents to know what the right choice is in 2020. That's true whether it comes to school attendance, work sacrifices, holiday plans and even whether or not to get sick kids tested for COVID-19.
The American Academy of Pediatrics believes the official number of cases of COVID-19 in children (more than a million in the United States) is an underestimate, because some kids may not be getting tested.
A news story out of Utah suggests the doctors with the AAP may be right to worry this. News reports of social media discussions between parents suggest some parents are encouraging others parents to avoid testing their children for COVID-19. The though is that if numbers remain low, schools and sports will continue to operate as scheduled, something families are eager to see happen after months of isolation due to the pandemic.
KUTV in Salt Lake City obtained screen grabs from several parent Facebook groups in Utah school districts that support that.
"Please STOP getting tested!!! It is 100% unnecessary!! All it does is give the government and school district officials the power to continue to control us," reads one post.
Another parent commented, "I personal think getting tested is selfish. Because of the fact that they contact trace everyone so one person leads to 30 people that have to quarantine or worse, programs like athletics etc are shut down. It's mass hysteria cause one person came in contact with another person that had the sniffles and ran to get tested! Stop the testing. Stop the contact tracing."
The pandemic has created a host of challenges to families. Some parents may need their children to attend school so they can work. Tutors, pod learning, and childcare are expensive. Other families may fear the stigma of being diagnosed with the virus. Others may simply be scared. Families across the country are struggling.
What should parents do?
First, it's important that families continue wearing masks, social distancing, and washing their hands frequently.
If your child is showing any signs of being sick, the CDC recommends keeping him or her home. They've also developed a flow chart to help you figure out what to do next.
If your child has no symptoms but may have come into contact with someone with COVID-19, the NIH says that you should isolate immediately, call your health care provider, and then get a test.
Testing saves lives.
Parents can encourage each other in a way that can protect kids and keep schools open. It means being open to wearing masks and practicing social distancing, keeping our kids home if they seem sick, and getting them tested for COVID-19 if we have reason to believe it's necessary.
It's totally understandable that exhausted parents will do anything to keep schools and sports open for kids, but it is important to have accurate testing numbers, too.
That's why the AAP is calling for elected officials to do more to help families get through this. Parents shouldn't have to fear testing their kids for COVID-19.