As COVID rises, local school leaders urge parents to keep kids home when sick

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (WJW) – As COVID-19 cases continue to increase, some schools have an important reminder for parents ahead of the first day of school: keep children who show signs of illness at home.

School leaders continue to try to reduce the risk of spreading the virus as the Delta variant remains dominant in Ohio and children under 12 remain ineligible for a COVID-19 vaccination.

“For so many years, you think of perfect attendance awards, the Iron Man, always being there, always showing up and that’s for staff and students… That’s a paradigm we really have to move out of,” said Superintendent Ben Hegedish of Independence Local Schools.

Hegedish addressed the issue among other COVID-19 concerns during a school board meeting Thursday.

The school district will decide on a mask policy early next week. Hegedish says he anticipates the school board will recommend mask use for students but not mandate them.

He says no matter what is decided, parents should keep children who show signs of illness at home instead of sending them to school.

Staying home with a child who is sick is becoming more complicated as many parents return to the office after more than a year of remote work.

Some parents agree that preventing a child who is sick from going to school is likely the best way to keep everyone as healthy as possible, given the circumstances.

“I think we should all be in agreement, even before COVID, if your kid is sick, running a fever, vomiting, they should be staying home,” said Rachel Brenner, an Independence school district parent.

Last year, the district held in-person classes for most of the school year. Students and staff did have to quarantine as COVID cases were reported. 

Hegedish said that may happen again this school year and to prevent as much illness spread as possible, he encouraged parents to keep children home when sick.

“Sometimes kids might seem okay in the morning and then develop symptoms early on. We’ll be very quick to send kids home,” said Hegedish. “Our clinics, our nurses will do that and we’ll need a doctor’s verification that they’re safe to return to school.”

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