By Andrea Nakano

LARKSPUR (KPIX) — As kids are heading back to school, some are already coming down with sniffles and tummy aches. But what’s the guidance on how parent’s navigate through the pandemic this school year? The rules may be tough to figure out.

What makes it all challenging is there isn’t one set of rules for everyone to follow. Every parent has to know what their local health department guidance is, what rules the schools have implemented and what a sick child means to you and your work place.

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“Kids and germs go hand in hand. Now when they get sick it kind of freaks you out,” said parent Chris Smith.

As every parent knows, back to school means back to the days of kids bringing home colds and viruses. But with the pandemic, any one of those common cold symptoms could be a sign of COVID.

Dr. Anne Liu, an infectious disease doctor with Stanford Health says, “Unfortunately there’s really no distinguishing features between a common cold and COVID.”

Dr. Liu says with a different set of rules for each county and school district, the best piece of advice is to read up on what’s required, have a plan, including a place to get tested.

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“It’s not if but when our kids develop these GI symptoms,” says Dr. Liu. “What are you going to do?”

In Marin County, if a student has a symptom, they have to get tested and provide proof of a negative test, get evaluated by a medical provider or quarantine for at least 10 days. Dr. Liu hopes more rapid antigen testing will become available in the coming months to make the process easier for parents.

“It’s super disruptive, we all work from home and suddenly have your kids home with you while you’re trying to work is pretty crazy,” says Smith.

It’s an inconvenience that parents are willing to deal with in order to have their kids back in the classroom.

“I’m just happy to have my kids at school,” says parent Kasi Campbell. “At this point the priority is having as many kids on campus as possible so a runny nose means you have to skip until it clears.”

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With the Delta variant, breakthrough cases are happening and even people who are fully vaccinated can get COVID. Different workplaces will have different rules on when and how you can return.