Sore throat, runny nose among symptoms removed from student health checklist, province confirms

The list of symptoms parents are urged to screen their kids for each morning before they send them to school has gotten shorter.

Since the reopening of schools across the province, parents have been asked to monitor their children for symptoms of COVID-19, with districts releasing a daily health checklist. Fever, chills, and shortness of breath are among the 17 symptoms parents were told to screen for.

Kids that exhibited any of the symptoms were urged to stay home.

But that list of symptoms has been reduced, B.C.'s Ministry of Health has confirmed. Ten symptoms have been removed, including sore throat, runny nose, headache, and fatigue. Districts have since released updated daily health checklists.

"This was a recommendation from public health to remove some of the symptoms, given the very low probability of these symptoms by themselves indicating COVID," the ministry said in an e-mailed statement.

"They are also very common in children so there are concerns that it would unnecessarily exclude children," said the ministry.

On Monday, Stephanie Higginson, president of the B.C. School Trustees Association, told CBC she will be speaking with the Ministry of Education on Tuesday to learn more.

"My understanding is that those symptoms were taken off the list because they are not consistent symptoms in children," said Higginson. "What that shows is that our provincial health office is continuing to stay at the forefront of what it knows about this illness."

Some parents concerned

Parents like North Vancouver's Amitis Khorsandi say the sudden change has reignited health concerns she had before sending her five-year-old to kindergarten. She fears some COVID-19-positive students could slip through the cracks.

"A lot of people made tough decisions to go back to school, and we're all taking a risk to send our kids ... and then within a week, or less than a week, the rules have already changed," she said.

Parents are asked to screen children for the following symptoms daily:

  • Fever

  • Chills

  • Cough or worsening of chronic cough

  • Shortness of breath

  • Loss of sense of smell or taste

  • Diarrhea

  • Nausea and vomiting

The following symptoms have been removed from the daily checklist:

  • Sore throat

  • Runny/stuffy nose

  • Headache

  • Fatigue

  • Loss of appetite

  • Muscle aches

  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

  • Dizziness, confusion

  • Abdominal pain

  • Skin rash or discolouration of fingers and toes

The ministry says it's still important to seek medical assessment if children are exhibiting a combination of symptoms.

The bulk of the symptoms removed from the daily health check for students are still included in both B.C.'s self-assessment tool and the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's list of COVID-19 symptoms.