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N.H. Health Officials Reiterate Call For COVID Testing Among Students With Symptoms

Josh Rogers / NHPR

State health officials are doubling down on their recommendations to schools for dealing with potential COVID-19 cases, in spite of criticism that the recommendations are too strict.

The state says students with any new or unexplained COVID-19 symptoms should immediately be sent home and referred to their physician for COVID-19 testing.

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Some schools say students are returning with doctors' notes indicating their symptoms are not a concern, and recommending they return to school without a test.

Credit Sara Plourde / NHPR

"Maybe the providers aren't aware of how COVID-19 presents, or they're not aware of public health guidance," Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Elizabeth Talbot mused Wednesday, while on a call with school nurses. "Maybe providers don't know how to get patients tested."

National and state data show many kids with COVID-19 only having mild systems. Talbot says this means testing is the only way to confirm students' status.

"This testing may not be traditionally medically necessary, but it's necessary for public health," she said.

Without a negative test, schools typically are asking students to stay home for at least 10 days or until symptoms go away. If a student is asked to stay home from school but is healthy enough to participate in class, they're expected to attend school remotely.

The state continues to recommend that people without symptoms use the PCR-based test (available at state testing sites) rather than the rapid antigen-based tests.

Question of the week: How has screen time changed in your household or classroom with the hybrid or remote learning model? What are your concerns, and what strategies have you come up with to manage this and keep the school day active? Fill out this quick survey.

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.

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