Opinion: Family doctors need more support from government when schools reopen

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Family physicians have not received clinic guidelines nor a plan from the government for how the health system and family clinics will prepare to manage the additional volume. Family clinics do not receive personal protective equipment (PPE) from government while hospitals and COVID-19 assessment centres do. We have not received any instruction or support for the inevitable increase in symptomatic children coming to our clinics.

Without the government preparing clinics with guidelines and PPE we will likely see additional strain on our emergency rooms and assessment centres. We, family physicians, want to provide appropriate continuity of care for our patients. We have always been the first connection for our patients to receive care. The government must provide a plan to safely guide the system to not overload our emergency rooms and COVID-19 assessment centres.

How do physicians educate and support families, children, parents, and teachers? We are also concerned about return-to-work guidelines for teachers and children in the event of symptoms and a COVID-19 swab result (negative or positive). Government has not provided clear direction specifically to physicians to address this for our patients.

We require guidance documents answering many COVID-19 questions for parents and teachers. Examples of frequently asked questions to include are: 1) a child has a runny nose, what do I do?; 2) a child had a COVID-19 test two weeks ago and now has diarrhea, what do I do?; 3) a classmate of my child tested positive for COVID-19, do my child and I need to be tested?; 4) my child tested positive four days ago but now my child has a runny nose, what do I do?; 5) are there symptoms that a child gets that do not require a test?; 6) how often could kids potentially need to be swabbed?; and 7) how long does a COVID-19 test last? There are many common questions parents and teachers have. This requires guidance resources from government to provide our community.

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