Back to School 2020 – Pros and Cons

Ivette D. Rico, M.D. – July 21, 2020

Many parents are questioning whether to send their kids back to school or not with the COVID-19 pandemic still active. It is difficult to decide for all children, so it should be decided on a case by case basis. We need to consider pros and cons as well as the guidelines offered by their own school district.


  1. Children and adolescents are less likely to be symptomatic or to develop severe disease. Also, they are less likely to become infected or to spread the infection.
  2. Children need the opportunity for better education, social interaction, a place to support learning difficulties, and access to meals.
  3. Schools should offer the appropriate guidelines to decrease the risk of spreading the virus between students.
      • Hand hygiene
      • Physical distancing
      • Small cohort groups
      • Eliminate symptomatic individuals
      • Face masks
      • Flu vaccine


  1. Although children are low risk, they can still spread the disease to those that are at risk to have a severe illness. This needs to be based on individual cases.
  2. Parents should have the ability to provide a safe environment, supervision, and adequate equipment to provide virtual classes.
  3. If your community is a “hot shot” for increased cases of COVID-19, it is riskier.

It is hard to foresee the future, but hopefully we can all make the best decision for our children and families with the information we have available.

Back to School

Ivette D. Rico, M.D. 08/13/19

School is back in session!  As kids go back to school, they will be exposed to many different illnesses and they may get sick. We want our children to get better fast so they can return to school. The question is:  Is it a cold or something else?

Upper respiratory infections or “common colds” are one of the most common illnesses, and one of the leading causes for doctor visits and school absences.

URI is caused by a virus that produces inflammation on the membranes of the nose and throat. It can be caused by any of more than 200 different viruses (Rhinovirus is the most common).

During a “cold” the immune system reacts to the virus producing an increase in mucus production, swelling of membranes inside the nose, sneezing and cough.

The symptoms may last from 1 to 2 weeks. There is no cure for the common cold, and antibiotics will not help treat a cold.

Treatments to help relieve the symptoms include increased fluid intake, saline nasal drops, and the use of a cool mist humidifier.

The most important medicine is prevention. Prevention measures include staying away from other “sick” people, frequent hand washing, and keeping hands off your face, nose and mouth.

If symptoms do not improve or a secondary infection is suspected such as an ear infection, sinus infection, pneumonia or throat infection, contact your pediatrician’s office!

Have a great school year!!

What You Need to Know about Measles

Ivette D. Rico, M.D. – 2/12/2019

There have been cases of measles in New York City, New York state and Washington, and a few cases in Atlanta. During this measles outbreak, there are a few things that everyone should know.

  1. People with measles are contagious four days before they develop the rash, and the virus can live in the air up to two hours after an infected person sneezes or coughs.
  2. Usually the symptoms start with fever, cough, runny nose and “pink eye”, like any other virus. Three to five days later a rash begins on the face and neck, spreading downward all over the body. This is when you realize it’s not a usual virus.
  3. Most of the time patients will recover, but on some occasions there can be complications like diarrhea and ear infection with hearing loss. More serious complications include pneumonia, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), or even death.
  4. And finally, it is important to know that measles can be prevented with a vaccine. Measles vaccine is usually given as part of the MMR vaccine at 12 to 15 months of age and a second dose is given at 4 to 6 years of age. Only one dose is 93% effective in preventing the disease and the second dose insures effectivity to 97%. This is a safe vaccine and does not cause autism. Most of the time, these outbreaks start in areas with a high number of unvaccinated children.

So to keep our children safe, it is important to vaccinate them!


by Ivette D. Rico, M.D.

A child in Florida died, why?  The death was caused by Flu, a disease that can be prevented by a vaccine.  The State epidemiologist said that the child had not been vaccinate against the Flu and had not suffered from any previous illnesses. This child was healthy.

We know that the child tested positive for Influenza type B and died during the week of September 30th, the exact location has not been disclosed.  We also know that during last Flu season,  183 children died from Flu or Flu-related causes. In addition, 80% of the pediatric deaths were unvaccinated children.

So, the message is strong and clear: the vaccine is safe and is the most effective tool we have. Let’s protect our children and have everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated against the Flu!

Educational Links

American Academy of Pediatrics
Carseat Safety
Healthy Children
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Patient Centered Medical Home (English version)
Patient Centered Medical home (Spanish version)



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