DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – When family members are exposed to COVID-19, health leaders said some may be accidentally exposing more people by not understanding quarantine guidelines. And, also taking unnecessary tests.

One of the worst things health leaders said that families are doing is not abiding by quarantine and isolation guidelines. Once a household member tests positive, others need to quarantine as well which may be difficult with young kids.

“There’s no cut and dry, it’s just what can we do to minimize the germs in the house,” said Vicky Knisley-Henry, Miami County Public Health public information officer.

Families are facing new obstacles returning to work and school as omicron cases continue to rise. Health leaders said families who have COVID-positive members living in the same household may be misunderstanding quarantine guidelines and spreading cases in communities.

“If the child can’t separate from the parent, then their 5-day quarantine wouldn’t start until after the parents’ isolation time is over,” said Charles Patterson, health commissioner at Clark County Combined Health District. “That’s part of the problem, you start to see these isolations or quarantines back to back to back.”

Patterson said if one family member tests positive and the entire household is experiencing symptoms, you may want to save the trip to buy tests and have everyone stay inside.

“There’s no reason to test the rest of the people, they’re symptomatic, they’ve had exposure to a positive and are probable cases,” said Patterson. “There’s no sense in wasting those tests or having something shoved up your nose, call them all positive, all hunker down until they’re symptoms get better and then they can go out for five days with a mask after that’s occurred.”

To get back to normal faster, Miami County Public Health suggests families hunker down together. Even if some don’t show symptoms, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

“First and foremost if anyone is sick or has symptoms, stay home,” said Knisley-Henry. “If the kid sniffles, keep them home because that will limit other people’s exposure, limit quarantine periods, all the things.”

However, these constant changes can be stressful for families especially with younger kids involved. Mental health specialists said the most powerful thing parents can do right now is having hard conversations with their kid.

“These social interactions that were normal two years ago are not now and it’s your comfort factors that allow you to do what you need to do,” said medical director at Atrium Medical Center Behavioral Health, Dr. Jonathan Lazzara.

As school protocols keep changing, mental health specialists encourage families to create a plan with each other. Having a sense of inclusivity may help younger students adapt quicker.

Bellbrook parent Kassi Kipling had all three of her children test positive at once earlier in the year and wants more families to mask up regardless of individual school guidelines. She hopes masking will help keep kids in the classroom.

“I’ve been trying to urge parents to send their kids in masks,” said Kipling. “Their education will be impacted and socialization is now impacted by missing school days.”

Another parent who wanted to remain anonymous said her family was fortunate, they made many life changes just to ensure their son passed the third grade last year and is now on a better path.

“My son is in the fourth grade, he was online in the third grade for a majority of the year and he struggled. He went from an A student to a D and F student and we’re seeing the recovery now in person, so going back online won’t be a good environment for him.”

Mental health specialists advise parents to only control what they can and focus on what’s comfortable for their family.

“If you still want to wear a mask, wear a mask, no one is going to insult you for wearing one,” said Dr. Lazzara. “We’ve been in them for the last couple of years.”