COVID19 life Parenting The Podcast


September 29, 2020


G has her first URI since March. Super runny nose, pitiful-looking puffy eyes and face, low grade fever. I’m sure she got it from school. She actually told me specifically which playmate of hers came to school with a runny nose, but I’m not sure whether to trust intel from a toddler.

Back in the day, I happily sent my afebrile-but-snot-ridden children to school, which was (generally) allowed. I actually called the school to find out what the current COVID-era policy is — should I get her tested? Keep her home until completely symptom free? (I was sort of assuming the answer to both would be yes).

However, there is apparently no real policy about testing and “she can still come in if her mucous is clear.”


(So um . . . isn’t this a recipe for potential undetected COVID spread?)

(We still have 2K cases/day in the state and 200 in the county)

(And yes I know choosing to send the kids to school was my choice so I shouldn’t complain, and honestly the past 4 weeks have been amazing and so I’d say it has been worth it!)

All that said, (#&*(@#. As I was tired all weekend and then felt some very mild gunk creep into my throat by the end of the day yesterday, I now feel the right thing to do is to get us both tested today and avoid going to the office & seeing patients in person until my result is back. There are now multiple local places we can go to get tested, which is great. HOPEFULLY results turnaround time is quicker than it had been. I was supposed to have a full day of in-person patients today but I guess I’ll move them and/or convert to telehealth.

And ALSO — I think all of this means keeping Cameron (who has no symptoms) home, because if G & I test positive, then his class is potentially exposed too. So basically – enormous life disruption for a runny nose & mild URI symptoms.

But I actually think this is probably what everyone should be doing right now — being cautious and testing at any sign of even mild illness. This is how larger outbreaks are prevented . . . right?

I just hope everyone else has the sense to keep their snotty kids at home too. So ($&@$ disruptive.

PS: Our nanny feels comfortable continuing to come in, a fact for which I am very grateful. Hopefully this is just a run of the mill URI. (Which it probably is!)

I let Laura cover the BOBW episodes (she posts on her blog & I do the insta!), but this one deserves a special mention:

It’s my sister + baby Miriam! She has a unique story to tell, plus words of encouragement to others who may be considering a solo parenting journey. Listen here (or anywhere you find podcasts)! For my knitting/crocheting readers, her store can be found here.


  • Reply Liz Storn September 29, 2020 at 6:33 am

    UGH! I feel for you. I kept my toddler home for 2 days last week + the weekend for congestion and a runny nose and considered getting him tested (not as accessible where we are). Also afebrile and got it from daycare. His cleared up quickly and the rest of us didn’t get it, so I felt confident 1) letting big brother (6) continue at school since they are all masked all the time and 2) letting him go back on Monday. But I’m also in VT with extremely low case counts, so it’s a completely different situation from FL. Good luck to you! Hope she gets better quickly and no one else gets sick!

  • Reply Omdg September 29, 2020 at 7:13 am

    I’m kind of horrified your daycare has no policy, but not surprised, as it seems your governor is an utter moron. Hope everyone tests negative! One of my colleagues was sick at work last week, but he caught it from his son who had been tested and was negative, so I was somewhat reassured. Remember there are false negatives though, and where you live is pretty high prevalence.

  • Reply Margaret C September 29, 2020 at 7:23 am

    I just had to get my 4 year old tested for COVID due to fever, mild symptoms. Same deal, nothing I wouldn’t have happily dealt with pre-covid with a day of tv and tylenol. Our pediatrician said the standard here is either a test or 10 day quarantine so off we went for the 4th(!) COVID test for my kiddo. (This is the third cold/fever we’ve had!). At least we were able to get rapid test this time (negative) so after a stressful afternoon we’re back at tv and tylenol as expected. I’ll be honest it sucks. But then I think how would I feel if MY kid was the one to give daycare COVID or my husband was to expose his very medically sensitive workplace, so we do it. I wish the symptoms of every basic kid cold and COVID didn’t overlap so much!!

    Daycare policy is no fever, no symptoms 24hrs and if there’s potential exposure need a test too. Both my work and my husbands require 14 day quarintine if anyone in the household is exposed. Strict rules when you’re dealing with the cold, but comforting when you’re the healthy one.

  • Reply Brooke September 29, 2020 at 7:23 am

    I’ve accepted this is just how it is right now. My daughter missed her first day of 1st grade because she had a fever for 3 hours with no other symptoms. We were able to get a rapid test (<24 hours) so she was able to rejoin school on day 2. On the bright side, since she was negative, I was not concerned when I got the same mystery ailment 2 days later. But also – how did she get sick?! She wasn't in camp this summer and we are following all precautions.

  • Reply Sara B. September 29, 2020 at 7:33 am

    Ugh. 100% agree – get symptomatic people tested – it’s the ideal scenario and right now there shouldn’t be limitations on testing in your area. Wait until symptoms are better to return, because transmission of non-CoVID viruses just means that more kids need CoVID testing (the alternative is complacency about URIs, and there is no such thing as “just a virus” this year!). It sucks. The good news is most of the kids I’ve seen in this scenario have not had CoVID. Wishing you easy, speedy testing and negative results.

  • Reply gwinne September 29, 2020 at 7:42 am

    Yeah, you need to keep everyone home and should test. I’m sorry for the hiccup.

    Did not know your sister was a solo mom! Exciting!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 29, 2020 at 3:28 pm

      Yep!!! Solo mom and solo small business owner 🙂

  • Reply Ashlie Salazar September 29, 2020 at 7:48 am

    Yes you are absolutely right to test her and keep everyone home. I am in Texas and my 3 boys had been back in school for 10 days when my 2 year old daughter (who has not gone to school, had a sitter or been anywhere) had runny nose, 99ish temp and red watery eyes, one diarrhea diaper (by next morning she was pretty much symptoms free) I kept kids home anyway and got her tested. She has it! I was floored. The next day I tested the boys and all were negative. But I can only assume that one for the boys got at school (where I later find out there has been similar symptoms and fever going around) and somehow cleared it early enough to get the negative test. Supposedly some of the other kids at school have been tested and have been negative but we did the deep nose pcr test, not sure if they did a mouth swab which is offered free in our area or maybe rapid test which is not as accurate. It’s really upsetting bc we have done NOTHING for seven months and have followed all rules and recommendations. I was reluctant to send to school but with 4 kids under 8 virtual did not go well and I needed help. Our cases and pos rate were dropping so I sent. Now we are quarantined and virtual for an undetermined time because who knows how many of us will get it and how spread out each case will be within our house. I hope g and everyone in your house is negative 🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻

  • Reply Gillian September 29, 2020 at 7:49 am

    Our school has very clear policies regarding illness. They actually send out a lovely Venn diagram of Covid vs. “cold” symptoms. Kids are allowed in school with clear runny nose, but obviously not with fever, cough etc.

    If it makes you feel any better my nephew got COVID at nursery school (through a known contact who got sick within 48 hours of being with him) and he did not have a runny nose…just a fever and cough.

    It all is hard to navigate right now. Good Luck!

    • Reply Ashlie Salazar September 29, 2020 at 7:57 am

      While it’s nice that they have a clear policy, my daughter (2) who tested positive for covid had a clear runny nose, a temp of 99.8 but a mere couple of hours (not classified as an actual fever) – no cough either…

      So many kids are going to school with this because the symptoms are so mild and fleeting that parents don’t realize they have it or don’t want to go through the hassle of testing. Worried about the teachers…

      • Reply omdg September 29, 2020 at 2:00 pm

        Yes. This, exactly. Clear rhinorrhea with no other symptoms could very well equal COVID, and those who make the daycare rules allowing children with these symptoms to come to school are best case engaging in wishful thinking, and worst case being willfully ignorant.

        • Reply Gillian September 30, 2020 at 9:50 am

          I may have not conveyed my point clearly. My point is that even with well-intentioned rules (we are in NY state and the rules come from the state department of health which has recently been very data driven and helpful) can have some odd inconsistencies. My nephew never had a fever over 99 either. If they hadn’t known he had been exposed or if this were last fall they probably wouldn’t have thought anything of his symptoms.

  • Reply Hanna September 29, 2020 at 8:15 am

    My work has us fill out a questionnaire every day we go in person – are you waiting on test results, have you been in contact with anyone in 2 weeks, do you have any of these symptoms new, etc. I was very happy they sent out multiple emails reinforcing that they understand with cold/flu season, they will likely see more “failures” of the questionnaire, but to fill it out honestly and stay home if need be. Easy for me with unlimited sick days, but we also have contract, union, etc as well in the building and I don’t know how their sick days or ability to work from home works. Still glad they clarified.

  • Reply Heather September 29, 2020 at 8:20 am

    Woooowwww that response from the school. I guess things are different in FL? I’m in IL and a fever would automatically mean isolate, ped appointment, and need a negative COVID test to return. My niece is G’s age and has already had to get tested twice (both negative thankfully).

    • Reply Jordan September 29, 2020 at 8:29 am

      Wow yeah our school has a policy that any kid with any type of symptoms must have a negative Covid test and stay home for 72 hours after symptoms clear up. It’s very disruptive for work but feels like the new normal now. Both my kids have been tested twice after various illnesses this summer and recently the whole family got tested after we had dinner (outside, distanced) with our friends who got sick the next day and tested positive for covid. It was terrifying but we all tested negative. Being outside saved us, I think. Hopefully you guys are ok and it’s just another bug. Nice to get tested for peace of mind.

  • Reply Amy September 29, 2020 at 8:27 am

    I just had this happen. My son’s daycare also has strict guidelines and he had to stay home, but it was actually my work (big hospital in Boston) that was stricter. I had a pretty bad cold with symptoms that lasted for 7 days-so I needed 2 negative covid swabs before I could return. My sister is a PA in the EW in Houston and she just went to work sick….easy to see why numbers are better here than there 🙄

    • Reply Lori C September 29, 2020 at 5:02 pm

      Just wanted to say hi because you are local to me! I’m in Quincy and work indirectly in the healthcare field as well. 🙂

  • Reply Lori C September 29, 2020 at 8:56 am

    My son had a runny nose Thursday, Friday morning I asked the teacher if it is was okay as long as I am sure it is seasonal allergies. She said yes, but then we received an email that one of the kids in another classroom (the classrooms don’t interact with each other) tested positive. I was still pretty sure it was allergies or a cold, but Patrick woke up Saturday coughing and I panicked. We ended up doing a telehealth visit, and subsequent test, and as we awaited results of course the cough never re-appeared. Our school’s guideline is if there is more than 1 symptom the child needs to stay home until symptom free or he/she tests negative. We told the school we would keep both kids home until we got the result. Thankfully the results came back yesterday AM and confirmed my suspicion (negative!) so off to school they went.

    Patrick did NOT enjoy the test, but it gave me more peace of mind to keep the kids away from others until we were sure. These times are tricky and it can be hard to figure out what the right thing to do is. I try to follow 2 rules – 1. do what I would want another child’s parent to do… and 2. assume the test is positive and proceed accordingly – ie will I feel comfortable admitting where my child has been since developing symptoms? Question #2 was key and proved very helpful over the weekend. Lowe’s trip with Dad? That was okay by me. I can’t foresee him getting close to others or risking spread at a home improvement warehouse. But outside to play with neighborhood kids? No way. I couldn’t imagine having to call all my neighbors to tell them he had symptoms, was tested, then I let him play with their kids!

    In the end it all worked out since it was negative, but the whole thing gives me a headache trying to figure out what to do. The cold has spread to the whole family so now I get to through out the “don’t worry, it’s not COVID” thing whenever I cough in public… ay ay ay.

    • Reply Lori C September 29, 2020 at 8:57 am

      PS I didn’t realize your sister was a solo parent and I can’t wait to hear the podcast! I can only imagine how hard solo parenting must be these days.

      • Reply Natka September 29, 2020 at 9:16 am

        Actually… when you think there is a chance your child may have COVID – please DON’T send them to Lowe’s (or any other indoor public place). Even if they don’t come right next to another person – someone else’s kid may run up to them. Also, kids touch things after touching their faces/noses/eyes… and then other people may touch the surface, etc, etc.

    • Reply Elizabeth September 29, 2020 at 12:36 pm

      I have to agree with Natka…It’s too late for this past weekend, but with all due respect and without judgment (because this is a tough time and making these choices is HARD), following your rule not to do anything you wouldn’t do if one family member has tested positive means you assume you have all been exposed, and would all need to quarantine. No one would be going to Lowe’s or anywhere else for 14 days. An at-risk member of the community could be shopping right next to your child (in a cart or walking) and one sneeze or cough could infect that person.

      I think sometimes the anonymous aspect of a trip to Lowe’s or Costco (or wherever) can blur the line. Even if you wanted to, you wouldn’t be able to contact each store employee or shopper who was there at the same time as your family members, should the test results be positive. But if you WERE able to and had to tell each of them they may have been exposed because your symptomatic child actually did have it, I think you may feel similarly as to the playing with the neighbors’ children. It just feels different because basically in this case, you wouldn’t have to tell people you exposed them.

      Again, not trying to make you feel bad or come across as judgmental. Maybe others have a different opinion—it’s just my two cents. I just wanted to respectfully disagree in case others are considering what to do in a similar situation. Mostly I try to think, what would I want others to do if they were potentially positive—would I want someone at the grocery store weigh Covid with me? That’s a no for me— and act accordingly.

      By the way, I’m so glad it was negative!!

    • Reply Meg September 29, 2020 at 1:16 pm

      Yes, I have to agree with Natka and Elizabeth about not going shopping with a test pending. I also think the anonymity of shopping skews our viewpoint of this. It is much harder to to admit to people we know that we would have let our kid come into contact with them vs unknown people that we never have to contact. I think this also falls under do what you would want others to do like you had mentioned. Do you want to be shopping next to someone who may have COVID? I appreciate these decisions are all so difficult and we are all trying to do our best! Glad you are all okay!

      • Reply Sarah S. September 29, 2020 at 8:26 pm

        One way to get around the anonymity of stores is to think about telling a contact tracer all of your activities in the case of a positive test. I have a friend who did contact tracing for the state during the spring. Every time I’m unsure, I think about how it would feel to tell her about our choices. When we are symptom fee it helps me feel less anxious about routine errands, but the thought of telling her ruled out anything except isolated outdoor activities when I had seasonal allergies and got tested just in case.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns September 29, 2020 at 9:17 am

    I also did not know your sister was a solo parent. Can’t wait to check out the episode!

    So our daycare’s policy is fever-based… Our son had a very minor runny nose last week so we did not keep him home since he was completely fine otherwise and didn’t have a fever. Now I have the runny nose but again, no fever. He just moved into a new classroom over the last couple of weeks so I chocked it up to new germs. Now I am wondering if I did the wrong thing? But I was following our daycare’s policy… Reading this makes me think I need to follow a more aggressive protocol than the daycare policy, though… I will say the cases in Minnesota are pretty well contained, especially in the area of the city where we live. We are very very cautious w/ me being immune compromised and pregnant but daycare is the one place where we do risk getting covid although I’ve been telling myself the risk is extremely low since kids don’t seem to be vectors to keep my anxiety under control.

  • Reply Natka September 29, 2020 at 9:22 am

    Sarah – just wanted to say… thank you for being a responsible adult.

    It is so easy to become complacent and just do what’s most convenient (and not sending kids to school + rescheduling all the patients is most certainly NOT convenient).

    Most likely, this is just a cold… but I am so glad to hear you are being extra cautious and keeping your kiddos at home and not seeing your patients in person.

    Hang in there… this too shall pass.
    Belatedly, Shana Tova.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns September 29, 2020 at 9:26 am

    Edit – I went back and looked at the daycare policy again and they also provide a decision tree from our dept of health based on more common or less common symptoms. So I was wrong about it being completely fever based. But based on that decision tree, it still didn’t recommend testing since he only had one “less common” symptom (runny nose) and was fine otherwise. This stuff is so hard and testing is still not the easiest thing to come by right now…

  • Reply Canuck September 29, 2020 at 9:44 am

    The other thing people don’t seem to think about is if someone (kid or adult) is sick with RI symptoms, even if they test negative, if you pass along that non-COVID illness to someone else, and they develop symptoms, then they have to go get COVID tested, and so on. It’s kind of an unnecessary drain on the healthcare system and disruption to their lives as well. Stay home, get tested, and continue to stay home even with a negative test if you are still unwell / experiencing symptoms!

  • Reply Irene September 29, 2020 at 10:10 am

    I really admire you Sarah for being so open about this. And for not taking the easy (dangerous) way out. It’s honestly really helpful- I have kids C and G’s age and am AGONIZING over sending my youngest to pre-school. Lots of people around here are but our rates are not especially good. My little guys is super attached to me and I worry about the closures/lack of regularity more than anything else. But even though I have taken a leave of absence from work (which is not a permanent solution) remote learning for my older one is a lot with both kids home. Ugh everything is so hard even for those of us dripping with privilege…

  • Reply Erika September 29, 2020 at 10:27 am

    This was us last week and we made the exact same decisions – kept the older brother home despite zero symptoms, had the younger one tested and it was negative. Didn’t send her back until she was symptom free for 24hrs. STILL the entire preschool class caught the same cold (and I know she got it from preschool also). This fall is going to be a lot of disruption and a lot of testing, but it’s great to know others are also making smart decisions to keep spread low. Hope everyone is healthy soon. Oh, and my best tip for kid testing is to tell them someone else gets to pick their nose 🙂

  • Reply LDMN September 29, 2020 at 10:59 am

    It’s BONKERS to me that they don’t have a system. The MN Dept of Health has a decision tree that I think is pretty helpful…

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 29, 2020 at 11:36 am

      This is great!!!

  • Reply Jen September 29, 2020 at 11:17 am

    Hey, i am at home with my kids today, too. Over the weekend our 3 year old started to have a lightly runny nose and then woke up with a light cough and sounding a bit hoarse on Monday morning. No fever, still feeling like playing so it was hard! We decided to keep him home. And my husband took him for a covid test (and got one for himself). We did still send our daughter to school who had zero symptoms. Other than school and daycare we have no other real exposure.
    Today, our daughter woke up with a slightly runny nose and sounded congested – so we kept her home today. Feels like the responsible, adult thing to do – but so not convenient with a full work day planned! It’s so hard because today it’s clearly a cold. The symptoms they have are not the main ones for covid and have actually been taken off the list in certain jurisdictions. But we are experiencing a spike in cases (in Ontario, Canada) and we want to be good citizens and do our part and not make assumptions. So we wait for the test results which are a few days backlogged.
    Feels like it’s gonna be a long fall and winter, though.

  • Reply Alyce September 29, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    I assume that if my daughter catches COVID or some other URI, she’ll wind up having a seizure that will require a ER visit. The Children’s hospital here in DC has been testing anytime they want to admit a patient (and they always want to admit my daughter), with test results back within an hour or two. So maybe one unexpected upside of epilepsy is not having to deal with the uncertainty of is it COVID or not? Lol. I’ll take it.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger September 29, 2020 at 7:06 pm

      oh my goodness – hoping she stays healthy and can avoid the ED altogether! that is tough! yes, the ED test is much faster. hoping someday we can ALL get tested like that . . .

  • Reply Nikki September 29, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    I haven’t read all the comments above, but if you’re interested in another another reference point, at our preschool the policy is any symptoms (including runny nose) require the student and any siblings to stay home until the symptoms have been resolved for 72 hours, or their pediatrician approves a return to school, or a negative COVID test. A few physician parents at our school are part of a task force advising the administration that helped create those policies, so I’m not surprised to see your decision making fall similarly in line 🙂 We’ve already had both my daughters spend three days at home because of a runny nose/sneezing for one – a reaction to her flu vaccine? the bad air quality from fires in the state? COVID? a cold that the teachers could catch (no subs allowed since that would disrupt the pods, so a teacher out can also cause an unexpected school cancellation) – so many factors at play! Runny noses this fall and winter will definitely be keeping us on our toes. Hope everything comes back negative and you are all feeling great again soon!!

  • Reply Charlotte October 1, 2020 at 10:06 am

    The Massachusetts daycare health policy is pretty good, if you want some guidelines to compare to!

    Thankfully a runny nose with no other symptoms doesn’t keep them home. But my Sunday sore throat required a COVID test before they went back. Luckily negative but took 2 days for the results.

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