You ask, we answer. In each edition of “Ask a Pediatrician,” Connecticut Children’s pediatric experts respond to a question from our community.

This week, infectious disease pediatrician John R. Schreiber, MD, MPH, tackles a popular topic this cold and flu season, especially with the new threat of the Omicron variant.

My child has a runny nose but no fever, and I’m sure it’s just a cold. Before the pandemic, I would have sent them to school. What do I do this year?

Dr. Schreiber: A lot of parents will be asking this – especially as we get further into the winter season when common colds become, well, common.

In the past, if kids didn’t have a fever (above 100.4 degrees) and felt well enough to go to school or day care, you might’ve sent them in.

But as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, especially with the highly contagious Delta and Omicron variants in the community, you’ll need to have a different plan. COVID-19 can be hard to spot. Especially in kids, it often shows up as very mild (or no) symptoms. In other words, there is a chance that your child’s runny nose is a clue they have the virus. You’ll need to take extra precautions right now.

So if your child wakes up with a runny nose, cough, congestion, vomiting, diarrhea or stomach pain – whether or not they have a fever, and even if your gut tells you it’s just a common cold or allergies – please start by keeping them home from school or day care.

Then call your child’s primary care pediatrician.

They’ll help you decide what to do next, depending on your child’s symptoms and health information.

(You can also call Connecticut Children’s 24-hour Pediatric COVID-19 Hotline at 833.226.2362 to speak to one of our clinicians. We’re available to help, any day, any time.)

What other topics would you like us to address in our “Ask a Pediatrician” series? Let us know at askapediatrician [at] (askapediatrician[at]connecticutchildrens[dot]org).

Want more articles like this from pediatric experts you trust?

Sign up for our newsletter.