Current News



Some parents are sending kids with COVID-19 to class. What can schools do about it?

By Mitchell Willetts, The Kansas City Star on

Published in News & Features

School officials across the country are sharing in frustration, disbelief, and worry over a problem many didn't anticipate when reopening America's classrooms - parents deliberately sending their COVID-19-infected kids to class.

It's a dangerous disruption of best-laid plans, a hazard to students and educators, their families and communities. But what can schools do about it?

"Never in a million years did we imagine or think to account for parents deliberately sending their sick or symptomatic child to school," Kirsten Johnson, public health director of Washington-Ozaukee counties in Wisconsin, told NBC News. School districts and health officials planned for months to ensure in-person education resume safely, and that work is being undone, she said.

There have been several instances in Washington-Ozaukee where children have shown up to school even though their parent was fully aware they were sick with coronavirus, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Similar stories have been reported in Oklahoma and Massachusetts.

"I think for us, the biggest challenge for us that we're experiencing right now is people are just being dishonest," Johnson told the Journal Sentinel. "They don't want their children to be quarantined from school. They don't want to have to miss work. In doing that, they're jeopardizing the ability to have school in person and other people's health."


Some districts are out of good options and there may only be one thing left for them to do, Johnson told NBC News.

"A handful of irresponsible parents could be responsible for closing down entire school districts," Johnson said.

"The human behavior aspect of sending sick and positive children to school is not something we can control, and we never accounted for people completely disregarding basic health guidance," Johnson said. "We have no tools left, and we just want everyone to be safe."

The potential for coronavirus spread is high in a school environment, and it isn't just the children at risk.


swipe to next page
(c)2020 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.