COVID-19 or Common Cold? How to Gauge Symptoms as Kids Return to Schools

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Summer was officially over for tens of thousands of school-age children Wednesday as more districts in the Bay Area started a new school year with in-person classes even as COVID-19 cases continued to rise.

Among the districts reopening were San Jose Unified, Fremont Unified, San Leandro Unified, Fairfield Unified and Redwood City Unified.

With so many students going back to school, one question many parents are asking is: How do I know if that sniffle is a cold or something more serious such as COVID-19? Health officials say it's nearly impossible to know off the bat, but children who contract COVID-19 often exhibit a symptom adults do not: stomach issues.

"The (gastrointestinal) symptoms of coronavirus are different in children than they are in adults because children will have more of a GI complaint than adults, and we’re seeing that more with the delta variant," said Dr. Vincent Tamariz, a pediatric ER physician with Sutter Health.

Tamariz also said symptoms in children can include the more traditional COVID-19 signs such as a dry cough, runny nose and sometimes a fever. He said the best thing to do when a child is showing any of those symptoms is to see a doctor.

Tamariz advised that as students make their way back to school, the best line of defense for them is to wear masks.

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