Young boy in his basketball uniform If your child has been diagnosed with COVID-19, you may have questions about when it’s safe for them to return to sports – and what steps you need to take before they do so.

Stephen Paridon, MD, a cardiologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), offers some advice to help you get your child back in the game – safely.

Proceeding with caution

Because COVID-19 has been linked to heart damage – and so much is still unknown about the disease – Paridon and other CHOP experts are taking a conservative approach when advising parents on when it’s safe for their children to return to sports.

“Much of what we are doing right now is out of an abundance of caution, because we don’t have a lot of information on COVID-19 – not because we have any data to suggest kids are at significantly higher risk,” Paridon says.

The bottom line? All children who test positive for COVID-19 should wait until at least 14 days after their symptoms have resolved before returning to sports, and some children – depending on their age and the severity of their illness – will need cardiac testing before being cleared to play.

Here’s what Paridon recommends:

If your child did not have symptoms:

  • Your child should not return to sports until 14 days after receiving their COVID-19 test results.

If your child had a mild illness (i.e., they did not have a fever and symptoms lasted less than three days):

  • Your child should not return to sports until at least 14 days after their COVID-19 symptoms have resolved.

If your child had a moderate illness (i.e., their fever or other symptoms lasted for more than three days, but they were not sick enough to be hospitalized):

  • Your child should not return to sports until at least 14 days after their COVID-19 symptoms have resolved.
  • If your child is 12 or older, cardiac testing should be performed before they return to sports.

If your child was hospitalized:

  • Your child should not return to sports until at least 14 days after their COVID-19 symptoms have resolved.
  • Your child should have cardiac testing before they return to sports.

Paridon emphasizes that every situation is different, so it’s important to talk to your child’s doctor about what kind of follow-up or testing is needed before your child gets back in the game. If your child had COVID-19 symptoms but was not tested, check with your child’s doctor. If they feel there was a significant chance that your child may have had COVID-19, your child should wait 14 days from the resolution of symptoms to return to sports.

Paridon is quick to point out that while caution is warranted, panic is not: “The vast majority of kids with viral infections recover just fine, and we have no reason to believe COVID-19 will be any different.”

Stephen Paridon, MD, is an attending cardiologist and Director of the Exercise Physiology Laboratory at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

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