Central NC pediatricians busy keeping up with COVID-19 testing needed for school-age children

COVID-19 and schools

LILLINGTON, N.C. (WNCN) – When students went back to school, things started to get busy at Premiere Pediatrics in Lillington. Dr. Lori Langdon said she gives a COVID-19 or RSV test to about 90 percent of sick visits she sees.

“Thanks to the delta surge, now we’re full steam busy just about every single day,” Langdon said.

The tests are needed for both students trying to return from quarantine, and for students who were sent home with COVID-19 symptoms and are looking to show the school they don’t have the virus.

In Harnett County, where Langdon’s practice is, students in quarantine can return after seven days only if they receive a COVID-19 test at least five days after the exposure. Without a test, the quarantine is 10 days.

“We’ve had a lot of patients come in just to follow the rules and that’s important, and to be tested for COVID before they return to school,” Langdon said.

Langdon said she anticipates doing more tests now that masks are optional in the district.

Under North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services guidelines, unvaccinated students not wearing a mask are required to quarantine after being within 6 feet of a positive case for longer than 15 minutes in a 24 hour period. She said up until now, that meant most exposures happened at lunch.

“We are now about to see, over these next few weeks, how much that increases if children in the classroom aren’t masked at all because it’s going to be so much easier to pass that 15-minute mark if they’re not wearing the mask even in the classroom,” Langdon said.

It’s not all COVID-19 keeping things busy. She said the unusual summer RSV surge is continuing, and peak ragweed allergy season is underway.

According to DHHS, students with COVID-19 symptoms need a negative COVID-19 test or an alternate diagnosis from a doctor if they want to return to school 24 hours after feeling better.

“If we see them and they test positive for strep, maybe we typically still test for COVID because we’re nervous these days, and we have had occasionally patients who’ve had both strep and COVID so we would test them before they went back,” Langdon said.

She said the office always has slots open for same-day urgent visits.

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