Many parents will test their children for COVID at home using rapid antigen tests (RATs), when school starts in many countries next week.
Several governments have strongly recommended screening of students and school staff.
This can be difficult for many parents, especially if their child has developmental or behavioral difficulties.
So how can you safely perform a RAT on your child at home and help them engage in the process? Preparing for the test As with vaccination, the key to passing the test is to prepare the child well and explain to him what is going to happen, to give him some control over the situation and to minimize his anxiety.
Sit down and talk with your child and explain to him: he will have to do a RAT in the morning twice a week (if in Victoria or NSW in Australia). It won’t be forever, but will be necessary for the first four weeks of school, at least.
They can go to school if the test is negative.
And that all their friends will too.
It doesn’t have to be scary or painful. With the right technique, you can perform this test quickly and safely at home, or allow your child to do it on their own if they can.
In general, give yourself about 20 minutes and remember not to rush the process the first few times you do this with your child.
It would be helpful to show your child a video, like the one below, of how this is done while you become familiar with the instructions.
There is no need to minimize the experience by saying “it won’t hurt”.
Acknowledge that it can be a little uncomfortable. Explain to them that you are going to do it together and they can show you how they would like it done for them. You may want to practice with a small cotton swab before using the actual RAT kit, either with them or with another adult.
How to Perform the Test First, lay out the kit on a table with the ready-to-open swab packet, liquid solution tube and caps, and test device.
For a nasal swab test, begin by blowing your nose and washing your hands. Then, put his head on a chair with a headrest, or on a pillow on the sofa where he can rest comfortably. In younger children, you can have them sit on your lap with their head resting on the crease of your elbow.
The dabbing hand holds the swab like a pencil, with the rest of your hand or pinky finger on their cheek, upper lip, or chin, as if you’re about to draw a mustache on their face. This will help stabilize the swab in case the child suddenly moves or sneezes.
The key is to aim the swab low (flat against the bottom of the nasal passage) into the nose and go slowly.
Many people have a crooked septum, which is the wall separating the left and right of the nose, which means there may be more space on one side of the nose than the other. There is also a lot more space lower in the nose, and going too high too fast will cause discomfort.
Think low and slow and aim down and back, rather than up. This will reduce pain and allow more time for the swab to capture as much material as possible, increasing the likelihood of a more accurate test.
Insert the swab about 1-2cm into the nose and swirl it for 15 seconds, or about 4-5 times. Repeat on the other side. Never push against strong resistance that could cause pain.
Next, dip the swab tip into the liquid solution, squeezing the tube well, and mix for about 15 seconds before closing the lid, then dropping the solution into the well of the test tray. Carefully discard the cotton swab.
Wash your hands and wait. Most test kits require 15 minutes, but please follow your particular brand’s instructions.
Congratulate your child on a great job! We want this to be a positive experience for them as it will be part of our routine for some time.
After doing this several times, some children may prefer to do it themselves. Empowering them and knowing it’s not painful or scary will empower them. Believe it or not, they may even start to think it’s pretty fun if it doesn’t hurt.
What about saliva tests? Salivary fluid tests are completely different.
These are not throat swabs. They may require a short period of fasting, depending on the kit, up to 30 minutes without food or drink before the test.
The child will have to learn to do a few deep coughs in the mouth closed and then either express his saliva in a container or have a pacifier that he will suck.
The time of reading the result also depends on the brand.
RATs aren’t the only way to minimize transmission No matter how you do it, some children will find it more difficult than others. We understand that. But honest education and practice runs will help the vast majority of children.
The key is to plan, chat, watch videos and try to make it a little fun to try and take away some of their anxieties. Demonstration of the test on an adult can also help.
Of course, the RAT test isn’t the only way to try to minimize COVID cases at school. There will be a range of other strategies that children will be asked to do.
This includes vaccination, wearing masks indoors and possibly outdoor learning.
Changes are being made to improve ventilation in schools by installing air purifiers, especially in high-risk areas of schools such as infirmaries and canteens, and trying to install shade sails for the learning outdoors.
There is enormous pressure for as many children as possible to receive a dose of the vaccine before school starts. Over 30 per cent of primary school children in Victoria have received a dose, with the aim to reach over 80 per cent by mid-February. There will also be pop-up clinics at select schools over the next few weeks.
The dose interval for children at higher risk for COVID (including those with certain underlying medical conditions) has been shortened from eight to three weeks in the context of ongoing community transmission to ensure priority for children vulnerable.
Booster doses for teachers are also essential.
Much needs to be done to support teachers, families and children, especially medically vulnerable children, to make schools as safe as possible. It is important to prioritize face-to-face learning to maximize the education, well-being and mental health of our children. (The Conversation) CPS
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)