Once school starts, there will be more than 1 virus to take steps to avoid

There will be more than one virus to take steps to avoid as schools reopen. Kids have always brought home germs, viruses and bacteria that could make their sick day a sick day for you too.

COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, has symptoms that overlap with flu. Understand the symptoms of each.

If you believe your child has symptoms of or has been exposed to COVID-19, call (800) 722-5725. A nurse will discuss the symptoms of COVID-19, talk to you about your child’s current symptoms and help direct you should your child need further evaluation or immediate care.

Here are tips on how to treat common illnesses or conditions that kids can pick up in school.


Symptoms: Sneezing, runny nose, sore throat, cough, mild fatigue, fever

Treatment: Home care products may relieve some of the symptoms but will not get rid of the illness. Antibiotics won’t help either — it just has to run its course. Take over-the-counter pain relievers, drink plenty of fluids and rest.

Conjunctivitis (pinkeye)

Symptoms: Red, itchy eyes; blurred vision; sensitivity to light, eye discharge

Treatment: Antibiotics, usually eye drops, are effective for bacterial infections. Viral conjunctivitis will go away on its own.


Symptoms: Abrupt onset of fever, headache, muscle pain and malaise; possible sore throat and cough.

Treatment: Replace fluids and electrolytes (salt and minerals), and eat bland foods (crackers, toast, rice or chicken). Avoid dairy products and highly seasoned or fatty foods for a few days.


Symptoms: Itchy scalp. Frequent scratching may cause broken skin or sores to form on the scalp. The damaged skin may weep clear fluid or crust over, and it may become infected. In response to infection, the lymph nodes behind the ears and in the neck may become tender and swollen.

Treatment: Over-the-counter lice shampoos work in most cases, though others require a prescription. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has more specific instructions.


Symptoms: Fever; sore throat; enlarged lymph nodes, especially in the neck and armpit; facial swelling; general discomfort; drowsiness; loss of appetite; muscle aches or stiffness; enlarged spleen; rash.

Treatment: Talk to your pediatrician or primary care physician. Get lots of rest — sometimes for a month or longer. Use warm salt water (half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water) to gargle for sore throat. Take acetaminophen for pain relief.

Pharyngitis (sore throat)

Symptoms: Sore throat (of course); fever; headache; joint and muscle aches; skin rash; swollen lymph glands in the neck

Treatment: If caused by a virus, antibiotics won’t help, but it will go away on its own within five to seven days. However, antibiotics can help if the sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection.

Norton Children’s Medical Group, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine

This isn’t the time to let your child’s vaccinations fall behind. Schedule an appointment to make sure they are all caught up and have their flu shot.

Find a pediatrician.

Strep throat

Symptoms: Sore throat, pain with swallowing, fever, headache, stomachache, swollen tonsils and lymph glands

Treatment: Your health care provider likely will prescribe an antibiotic. Gargling with warm salt water (half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water) several times a day and taking pain relievers such as acetaminophen can help with symptoms.