School committees address potential case procedure, pre-existing conditions

Oct 15, 2020

MARION — How do you tell the difference between an asthma cough and covid? The answer at Sippican School is to send the cougher home for a covid test. But one parent from the school isn’t happy with that answer.

Kathleen Welch, who has three students at Sippican School, said one of her children was recently sent home for a cough. But that child has asthma, and she sees the coughing as an innocuous regularity. 

“I understand the abundance of caution, but this might be going over the line,” Welch said at an Oct. 14 Old Rochester Regional School committee meeting. 

At the meeting, she addressed the committee, asking for a solution. 

Now, Welch said she has to take a half day at work to bring her child to get a covid test, and a note from a physician saying the child doesn’t have covid. 

She said her other two children also have asthma and she’s worried that she’ll have to repeat the process for each one. 

Welch also addressed the Marion School Committee at an Oct. 14 meeting, where she expressed a similar sentiment and asked whether she may have to repeat the process for each child.

But the committee said that there wouldn’t be any changes to the current process, and that the best course of action for Welch would be to work with Principal Marla Sirois, the school nurse, and her children’s primary care physician. 

“It’s important to remember that we do have a new nurse,” Sirois said at the meeting. 

She said that the school’s new nurse may not have the same intimate knowledge as previous nurses yet, and that Welch should establish strong communication with the nurse as well as Sippican School on the pre-existing conditions of her children.

Sirois said that decisions on whether or not children are potentially covid-positive and should be sent home is still ultimately up to the school nurse.

“It’s very hard for her to make that determination on the fly if a child has been coughing all morning,” Sirois said.