(WGGB/WSHM) -- Cold and flu season are upon us and while several school systems are starting the year fully remote, there are some students that will be in the classroom.

We're getting answers from the experts: COVID-19 versus the common cold.

“I think, initially, we thought it was just a flu-like illness where fever, cough, those were the major things…Now, if you go to the CDC website, there’s probably 20 symptoms there,” said Dr. John O’Reilly with Baystate Health.

The long list of symptoms for COVID-19 is very similar to the common cold and the flu.

“Some of the common symptoms of cold and flu and COVID-19, for novel coronavirus, are sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, coughing, post-nasal drip, watery eyes. You typically don’t get a fever with a cold, but you do with the flu,” said Dara Kapoor, executive editor of health.com.

So, how do they differ? Kapoor explained, “The cold and flu typically improve within 10 to 14 days. With COVID-19, it could take a turn pretty quick and it’s also a slower build up…The most significant differences from the outset are a loss of sense of taste and smell, shortness of breath, fever, coughing.”

O’Reilly told Western Mass News that there's been specific symptoms they've seen in some children.

“COVID-19 can also inflame blood vessels and cause blood clots. Kids will get these swollen, painful toes, what we’re calling COVID toes that you really something we don’t see outside of something like frost bite…Even now, diarrhea because there are these receptors in the GI track,” O’Reilly added.

As for that parents need to do, O’Reilly explained, “Be on the look out…need to sort of, again, with the risk factors within the household, be really careful about if you’re their has any kind of mild illness, that they’re doing all those things - cleaning surfaces, handwashing, not sharing things as much as they might normally do."

Both Kapoor and O’Reilly emphasize that symptoms for children are more mild and even asymptomatic. They said it's important to stay home even if you think your child just has a cold.

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