CAPE ELIZABETH — Karen Jenkins, school nurse at Cape Elizabeth High School, answered frequent parent questions about the COVID-19 screening process on Oct. 1.

The guidelines that the district uses align with the Department of Education and Center for Disease Prevention and Control, she said. She thanked parents and guardians for their efforts to keep the schools and community safe.

According to the guidelines that the school enforces, students would need to stay home from school if they answer yes in response to any of the daily screening questions or show two or more of the less common symptoms of COVID-19.

Most-common and less-common symptoms of COVID-19. Courtesy photo Karen Jenkins

If a child has one of the most-common symptoms, that student would need to stay out of the building as well, even if the symptoms do not prevent school work from being complete at home, Jenkins said. The school district recommends parents consult with their child’s healthcare provider.

“We realize that there’s a lot of overlap with these symptoms of many other illnesses, and that’s why we recommend a healthcare provider consult to sort it out,” she said.

Students cannot be in the school buildings if they have a fever of 100.4 or higher, she said. A child cannot use the aid of pain relievers like Ibuprofen to bring down a fever either.

“If there’s a fever on Monday, you can’t go back Tuesday,” she said. “You need to wait until at least Wednesday. This isn’t anything new for COVID. that’s been our policy right along in terms of keeping the schools safe.”

Students who have been in close contact with anyone who has had a positive COVID-19 test within 14 days also need to stay home from school, Jenkins said. Household members or do not need to quarantine unless there is a confirmed or probable diagnosis.

A school nurse may send a child experiencing symptoms home with a letter to parents highlighting the next steps, Jenkins said. Parents would need to consult with their child’s healthcare provider.

If a healthcare provider requires COVID-19 test, that child needs to stay out of school until the results come in, she said. If it’s negative and the child is fever free, a healthcare provider can fax school with a note saying it’s OK to return to school. Positive tests should be reported to the school nurse.

In order to trace cases, accurate attendance is important, Jenkins said. The schools need to know who is in the building.

Jenkins also updated parents on what the schools would do if a positive case were found in one of Cape Elizabeth’s schools.

“It would depend on the situation,” she said. “We would initially consult with the Maine CDC and follow their guidance, and we would also assist them with any contact tracing that may need to happen. Communication would come from the central office and would also be with the consideration and privacy of any individuals directly involved.”

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