How to Prepare Your Child for a COVID-19 Test

Spain was in a mandated lockdown from March until June 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Once the numbers started to go down and the country’s efforts had flattened the curve, the country began to slowly reopen allowing businesses and gatherings to take place along with preparations for opening schools.

Just a reminder — I’m an American expat living in Spain.

The residents of Spain were ready for the new school year to begin.

However, unlike the U.S., Spain was not given the option for virtual or hybrid learning due to low COVID-19 numbers and the efforts being made to keep it at bay. 

The Spanish Ministry of Health provided schools with a sixteen page (yes . . . sixteen) COVID safety protocol document and tested all teachers, which included my husband and I, for the virus, one week before schools were to open. We thought we were prepared . . . that is until the second wave hit. 

Two weeks after school began we started to see a rise in the numbers in the capital city of Madrid and hospitals once again were becoming overwhelmed. By this time we started to see it trickle into our school (K -12 school with approximately 900 students) three teachers and four students had tested positive. Exposed students were being sent home along with students experiencing any flu/ cold symptoms. 

I received an email from our school nurse (I’m a teacher at my daughters’ school) after lunch on a Wednesday.

“Please come to my office as soon as you can.”

My heart dropped into my stomach because I knew what this meant. Our oldest daughter, Zoey, was showing COVID-19 symptoms —fever, exhaustion, and sore throat. We quickly packed up her things and went home. I was terrified. I have been preparing for this possibility for months but let’s be honest . . . can you truly prepare for this?

I thought I would be strong, and I was but only as perceived from the outside. Inside I was falling apart and terrified about what this could mean. Her test was scheduled for the following morning, so that evening we talked her through it and prepared, as a family, as calmly as possible.

What to Expect and How to Prepare Your Child for a COVID-19 test. 

The “COVID Incubator”

If you are tested in a clinic or the hospital you will be escorted to what I like to call the “COVID incubator.” This is a separate waiting area for individuals with COVID like symptoms.


All patients must wear a mask. Due to my daughter’s age I was allowed to escort her to the waiting area but was not allowed to sit down with her in the room. Because I didn’t have symptoms, I had to stand outside the door. This might be different from state to state and country to country. 


We were then greeted by a nurse in complete PPE. We had a discussion before about what the healthcare workers would be wearing so that she wouldn’t be surprised or frightened.  The nurse then brought us to an isolated room where a doctor was standing to greet us. She too was wearing the full PPE.


She first did a complete check up and consultation. 

  • Has she been exposed to anyone with COVID?
  • Does she have any underlying health conditions? 
  • Does she wear a mask regularly?
  • What are her symptoms? Has she had a fever over 99.0 (37.7 clecius)?

After her check up the doctor explained what to expect from the test and then escorted us to an isolated lab specifically for COVID. 

The Test

A second nurse came then administered the test. Again in full PPE.

  • The swab is administered in one of the nostrils and extends towards the back of the bridge of the nose. Depending on your child’s age you might be asked to help support their head to keep them from wiggling.
  • The number one rule is stay still. First instinct is to turn your head or grab the nurse’s arm. If you move or touch the end of the swab, the test is void and will need to be administered again. 
  • The swab takes about 3-5 seconds. My daughter, who is 9, said that it didn’t hurt but that it was very uncomfortable. 
  • The nurse then gave us discharge papers, instructions about how to obtain the results,  and quarantine instructions if the test came back positive. She then escorted us out of the hospital. 

Thankfully our daughter’s test results came back within 24-hours and were negative.

We of course celebrated. What got us through this situation was support from family and friends and preparation. This video created by the Mayo Clinic was specifically made for children and helped us prepare our daughter for her test. It shows the entire process from start to finish and was a perfect resource to help calm her fears. 



Mary, a native of Rockford, Illinois, attended DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois where she received her BA in Secondary Art Education. In 2007, she moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa after accepting a position as a high school visual arts teacher with the Cedar Rapids Community School District. She and her husband, Collin, who is a teacher in the Iowa City Community School District, reside in Cedar Rapids with their daughters, Zoey and Munroe. Zoey is five and Munroe will be turning one in October 2016. In addition to being a full time mommy, full time teacher, and writer for the mom’s blog, she is also a professional artist who has shown and published works both nationally and internationally. Mary enjoys traveling, painting, and most of all, spending time with her family.


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