UW COVID school study aimed at keeping kids safe

The coronavirus pandemic has been tough for kids who need special medical attention. Since they're higher risk for COVID-19, researchers are looking into making classrooms even safer.

With the school year in full swing, not all kids have returned to face-to-face learning.

"About 20% of parents who have kids with complex medical needs are keeping their kids home," said Dr. Gregory DeMuri, UW Health.

Dr. DeMuri says a new study,  "RESET: Restarting Safe Education and Testing for Children with Medical Complexity," is being conducted by researchers at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

"The purpose of this was to determine how we can get them back and keep them safe in school," said Dr. DeMuri.

Researchers are working with school districts in the state to develop a system of effective testing to help students like Cade Moureau.

"Cade has a weird genetic condition with Prader-Willi Syndrome, which is deletions on his 15th chromosome," said Katie Moureau, Cade's mother.

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Katie Moureau said Cade also has a compromised immune system, making him vulnerable to COVID-19.

"So really, for him being home and not exposing him to the virus is really important to us," said Katie Moureau.

In addition to the distance learning affecting how his physical, occupational and speech therapy sessions are conducted, the first-grader is missing a socio-emotional connection.

"That’s like, one of the biggest fears," said Katie.

The study allows them to use an in-home test kit for COVID-19 twice a week.

"If the child has symptoms, they can get the test back faster, in 15 minutes or so," said Dr. DeMuri. "Provides a more rapid turnaround time."

Parents, schools and stakeholders are also being surveyed.

"We found it’s really important that schools, school administrators and school boards are putting in those mitigation strategies that reduce the rate of COVID, protect kids and keep it safe," said Dr. DeMuri. "Also, measures in the community like vaccination and masking are important for families, as well."

The study is part of a program aimed at better understanding COVID-19 testing patterns among underserved and vulnerable children.

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