December 10, 2020

New COVID-19 Information for Healthcare Personnel in Schools, Childcare Settings Published by CDC

CDC has published new information and guidance intended to help nurses and other healthcare personnel (HCP) working in schools and childcare settings address the challenges of COVID-19 and prevent the disease’s spread. The agency’s new webpage explains that nurses and other HCP will likely work to evaluate symptoms and exposures; assist teachers and administrators with mitigation, contact tracing, and testing; maintain school-based clinics; and support students, families, and staff. CDC provides information for school nurses and HCP about how to fulfill these new roles as well as links to potentially helpful resources.

According to CDC, the number of cases of COVID-19 among children and adolescents in the U.S. has been increasing since the beginning of the pandemic. Fewer children have been reported to have COVID-19 than adults, but the agency’s new webpage emphasizes that children can be infected with SARS-CoV-2, become ill with COVID-19, and transmit the virus to others. While many children show only mild symptoms of COVID-19 or no symptoms at all, some can become seriously ill, which may require hospitalization, intensive care, or a ventilator. Children with underlying medical conditions are more at risk for severe illness. The symptoms of COVID-19 in children are similar to those in adults and can resemble common illnesses such as influenza or strep throat.

CDC urges the use of “layered” mitigation strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools and childcare settings. The agency recommends the consistent and correct use of masks; maintaining at least six feet of social distance; following CDC guidance on hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette; constant cleaning and disinfection; and contract tracing in collaboration with state or local health officials.

Nurses and other HCP in schools and childcare settings should follow CDC’s infection prevention and control guidance for healthcare professionals when tending directly to patients. CDC recommends that workers wear a facemask—surgical or procedure masks are preferred over cloth masks—and eye protection when caring for students or children not suspected to have COVID-19 in areas with moderate to substantial levels of community transmission. When caring for students or children who are suspected of having COVID-19, school nurses and HCP involved in childcare should wear all recommended personal protective equipment, including an N95 respirator or equivalent, a gown, gloves, and eye protection.

For more information on the role of healthcare personnel in the mitigation of COVID-19 in school and childcare settings, visit CDC’s website.