There’s never a good time to test positive for COVID. In the case of my family, my son tested positive five days into the new school year.
There was a heat wave in NYC, but out of nowhere, he mentioned that his head felt hot. I took his temp, which was 101. Then I swabbed his nose using the stockpile of rapid tests that (thankfully) had been collecting dust all summer. Positive. Not knowing the COVID protocols in a new school, I did what any mom of a sick kid would do: I tucked him into bed, then emailed the school.
This kicked off a five-day quarantine—and the minor, but mega-feeling, loss of childcare for two working parents—but my son, who is fully vaccinated, was fully recovered and testing negative 48 hours later. (Lucky, I know.) His negative tests for three days straight meant he could return to the classroom mask-free six days after his first symptom, but without that level of progress, he’d have been required to mask for five additional days upon his return. In other words, we followed the same protocol as last year. (It’s worth noting that, unlike previous years, COVID protocols weren’t a talking point ahead of back-to-school—a marker of the progress we’ve made since 2020.)
But this is what struck me and other parents I’ve spoken with who are facing similar circumstances this fall: At what point can we shed the logistical nightmare that is COVID? Have we reached the point where we can treat it like other viral illnesses, such as the flu or a cold? We consulted a pediatric doctor to find out.