Many school children are home sick with flu and respiratory viruses. That Means Frustrated Parents Miss The Work Mankato Free Press | Wonder Mind Kids

PHILADELPHIA — Carla Mitchell’s 6-year-old daughter was sick from school again this week.

The first grader attends Gladwyne Elementary in the Lower Merion School District (LMSD), where an unusually high number of children have become ill with a potpourri of nasty viruses: flu, colds, COVID-19 and upper respiratory viruses such as respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

Things got so bad at the nearby middle school earlier this month that school administrators asked local health officials for advice after noticing a “high number” of sick students at Black Rock Middle School in Villanova, according to LMSD spokeswoman Amy Buckman.

With viral disease on the rise in the Philadelphia area and beyond, Main Line community chief public health officer Richard Lorraine said he was increasingly concerned about what he and other doctors across the country are calling a “triple demia” with cases of influenza, RSV and COVID -19 is causing a tsunami of the disease.

“Right now we’re seeing flu numbers explode,” Lorraine, medical director for the Montgomery County Office of Public Health, said Tuesday.

More children being home sick also means more parents have had to flee from work. More than 100,000 Americans missed work last month due to lack of child care — an all-time high, according to statistics from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

For many parents and children, this is the first full school year since the pandemic began, with children at school without mask requirements, desks 6 feet apart and scattered lunch areas. And extracurricular activities, including fall games and crowded soccer games, are in full swing. In other words, a normal school year.

And yet this school year is anything but normal. The virus season came earlier than expected and hit more children much harder.

Mitchell’s daughter Sophia has missed a total of seven days of school since September. She felt well enough to return Tuesday after developing flu symptoms last week, Mitchell said.

“Since she’s back at school she’s just been sick,” said the 43-year-old mother from Villanova, who homeschooled her daughter in the first half of kindergarten last year because of concerns about COVID-19 .

As COVID protective measures were in full swing, families who stayed healthy saw a side effect: cases of strep throat, respiratory viruses, flu and ear infections were down among children, likely due to social distancing and masking.

Katie Lockwood, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said parents have adjusted to a new normal where children don’t experience the typical “eight to 10 colds a year.”

“We just had a little break,” she said.

That is no longer the case. On Tuesday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) called on the Biden administration to declare a national emergency. The groups cited an “alarming rise” in pediatric RSV and flu cases, as well as an ongoing mental health crisis in children – all of which are overwhelming children’s hospitals.

“Our system has reached its limits and without immediate attention the crisis will only get worse,” said Mark Wietecha, CEO of the Children’s Hospital Association.

As child respiratory virus cases rise in the Philly-area, children’s hospitals are filling up with “little babies struggling to breathe.”

Lockwood said parents need to “follow their gut” when their children get sick. To assess when a child needs emergency medical care, she urged caregivers to look for signs of dehydration, including if their child has not urinated at least three times in a 24-hour period, or shortness of breath, such as wheezing. B. More than 60 breaths in one minute.

“The majority of children who get these diseases are treated at home or in primary care rather than hospitalized,” Lockwood said.

In Villanova, Mitchell wants schools to take protective measures. She has started a petition called “Cleaner Air in LMSD Schools,” urging her Lower Merion district to install carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors and HEPA filters, or “high-efficiency particulate air.” [filter]’ in every classroom. As of Tuesday afternoon, the petition had 254 signatures.

She explained that the motivation isn’t just to keep children from getting sick. She worries about the economic impact on working parents, especially those with hourly jobs, and that children will continue to fall behind in school.

father and NJ reading and math scores fell during the pandemic as the US saw a “worrying” decline

Her daughter spent a week in bed with fever, vomiting and loss of appetite. In September she missed school for three days because of a cold. Mitchell said she is convinced her daughter’s school and others in LMSD are not adequately ventilated to reduce the risk of virus spread.

“Children come home sick. They make us sick. We miss work. And it’s just a vicious circle,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said she offered to donate a HEPA air filter for her daughter’s classroom. Other parents are willing to do the same. “It’s something so simple,” Mitchell said.

However, the district rejected their offer, citing an energy efficiency policy. In an email Tuesday to parents, Megan Shafer, the district’s assistant district superintendent, said that “the LMSD’s ventilation systems meet or exceed building code requirements,” and the district is following federal, state and local health guidelines. Shafer said students could choose to wear masks.

Lorraine, medical director for the county public health agency, said he believes masks actually protect people from respiratory viruses and the flu better than they do from COVID.

Experts say families and students should wash their hands often and cover coughs and sneezes properly. Parents should not revert to a strategy some used for mild illness before the pandemic — giving their sick children Tylenol or Motrin and sending them to school.

“It’s got this ripple effect where we see that some schools with a large number of kids are absent,” CHOP’s Lockwood said.

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