Returning to School During a Pandemic
This year returning to school has taken on a new meaning, and there’s a new set of worries for those of you that are parents and caregivers — you must figure out how to balance the educational, social, and emotional needs of your kids, all while navigating a pandemic. We thought we’d remind everyone of some simple safety & hygiene tips to help keep your kids safe throughout this school year and beyond.
Side note: We realize state officials, schools, and teachers have most likely already discussed many of the suggestions below; however, we feel it’s important to reiterate the information.
Keep your hands clean.
This is such a simple & easy thing to do, and it can significantly impact the spread of germs…
Practice hand-washing at home with your children and explain why it’s essential to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before and after eating, coughing/sneezing, or adjusting a face mask.
Also, explain that if soap & water are not available, use hand sanitizer. Although most schools will be providing it, you should send your kids to school with a pocket-sized hand sanitizer just in case.
Stay home if you’re sick.
We understand every school may have a different policy on this… but If your child has a cold or flu symptoms, even if you don’t think it’s COVID, please be respectful of those around you and keep your child home unless you know for sure. If needed, contact your child’s doctor to get a COVID test.
This year, getting the influenza vaccine is also very important to reduce the risk of contracting the flu, seeing as most respiratory illnesses will send kids home from school and require COVID testing.
Clean & disinfect items that have been at school.
With most children attending school or child care facilities during the day — this means their belongings may get contaminated with COVID and other germs.
Have multiple cloth face masks available for your child. Provide your child with a clean mask and back-up mask each day and a clean, resealable bag to store the mask in when they can’t wear it, such as at lunch.
Have a stash of disinfecting wipes at home to wipe down school books, folders, lunch boxes, and other common touchpoints. Schools should also be following CDC guidelines on proper disinfecting and sanitizing classrooms and common areas.
Be mindful of the transportation challenge.
Making sure your child travels safely to & from school can be particularly challenging during a pandemic. Depending on their age, walking or biking to school can be an easy way to have kids avoid the crowds on the school bus. If they choose to walk or bike, make sure you review the proper safety protocols with them, especially if you can’t be with them during these times.
If your children are taking the bus, make sure to get them to the bus stop a bit ahead of pick up time to promote a safe, masked and mindful entrance to the bus.
If you plan on driving them to & from school, this may require additional planning. You most likely won’t be allowed to enter the school building, as temperature checks will be taking place. Try to arrive a little early to avoid feeling rushed or confused; this will also help keep everyone on task and safe.
Don’t forget mental health.
This year has caused countless disruptions to daily life, and children are feeling these changes deeply, along with their regular growing pains. It’s essential to be calm and proactive in conversations with your kids –check-in with them to see how they are doing. Their emotions will change regularly, and you need to reassure them that that’s okay.
Children may also get frustrated or upset if they are finding it hard to wear a mask. You can remind them that many adults are working hard to help keep them safe, and explain that it’s important we all follow the recommended measures to take care of more vulnerable members of our society.