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Children and the coronavirus pandemic

The first few weeks of school are always challenging for families with children, but this year the challenges are more significant in the lives of our most vulnerable and least powerful citizens. Children cannot always tell adults how they feel, but adults need to learn to recognize signs of trouble and take responsible measures.

The coronavirus is a special threat for children in West Virginia because we have a low rate of vaccinated people. Statistics from “Our World of Data” show that less than 40% of West Virginians are fully vaccinated, and Gov. JIm Justice has taken a hands-off approach to dealing with COVID-19 when our state averages over 1,500 new cases a day.

Randolph County averaged a coronavirus death per day within the last week, but most schools and daycare centers are open. Here in Elkins we are hearing about new cases among school children in our neighborhood, and in the schools our grandchildren attend. The most proactive and scientific approach would be to call a short timeout from school until the numbers are better.

As long as we are going to keep schools open, some allowances need to be made for families that keep children home to avoid short-term danger. It is good that Randolph County Schools require masks for staff and students alike, but keeping masks in place is much more important at this particular time, and parents also need to look for signs that their children may have COVID-19.

Some symptoms of COVID-19 include: fever, cough, fatigue, stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of smell, and/or taste. If you know your child has been exposed or see symptoms of the disease, you should go to have your child tested at the nearest testing center.

As every parent knows, children do better in new situations if they have some preparation for the experience. On the internet, “Nationwide Children’s Hospital” recommends “the 3C’s: Communication, Comfort, and Calm.” Prepare the child for testing by talking about the reasons you think it is necessary and that the test involves putting a swab up the nose. Comfort the child by acknowledging that the test may have been somewhat painful. Finally, parents can change the subject to calm the child by turning on music and/or offering a snack.

While I was writing this column, our son called to say that our granddaughter’s daycare center is closed for five days because a child tested positive for coronavirus. This insidious disease is here in Elkins, and we cannot afford to downplay the significance of the situation. Even if COVID-19 is not fatal, it may cause aftereffects including brain, heart or lung damage.

I only hope that children will not have to suffer because adults are making decisions without considering how the consequences may affect our next generation.

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