Plenty of parents are going to choose to send their kids back to school come September. So to help out with that here are some ways to set them up for success and safety.
Start With a Positive Attitude
Intrusive thoughts of despair and fear are to be expected for children and adults alike as the world navigates the uncharted territory of COVID-19.
Keep in mind, a thought can be changed and so can an individual’s attitude during times of stress. Being optimistic goes a long way when routines at school have been adjusted to minimize the spread of a highly contagious virus.
Dr. Benjamin Chan specializes in child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Utah Health. He advised that parents set the example as well as create structure. He said:
So my advice to parents is to create structure within their home. Kids, teenagers will respond to that structure. So even if it has to be, like, a physical manifestation of a chore chart: when people should get up, what time should they have screen time, what time should they work on homework, what time should they call a friend on a phone, what time should they go outside for a walk. People, kids, teenagers will respond to that.
Keep Your Sick Children at Home
The Ontario website states that
Students, teachers and school staff must self-screen for symptoms of COVID-19 before leaving home. Students and staff who are unwell must stay home from school. If a student has a pre-existing medical condition, parents are advised to talk to the family’s health provider before returning to school.
The quick assessment can help parents check for symptoms of COVID-19. It is not meant to replace any advice from a health care provider. If at any time a parent has questions about their child’s health, they should seek advice from a medical professional.
Does your child have?
- Fever or temperature of 100.4 F (38 C) or higher. If you do not have a thermometer, check your child’s skin to see if it feels warm or is red, or ask if he or she has chills or is sweaty.
- Sore throat
- Cough – if your child normally has a cough because of allergies or asthma, is this cough different than normal?
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle aches or pains
- Decrease in sense of smell or taste
If you answer yes to any of the symptoms listed, also consider the following question:
- Has your child been in close contact to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, in the last 2 weeks (14 days)? This means he or she was closer than 6 feet or 2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) to the person for 15 minutes or longer. If your child came into close contact with someone at school who tested positive for COVID-19, the school or health department would have likely notified you and asked that your child quarantine.
If you answered yes, call a doctor or health care provider right away. Your child may need to get tested for COVID-19. Your child should not go to school until he or she has seen a doctor or health care provider because your child was in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
If you answered no to COVID-19 symptoms but your child is sick, follow your school’s sick policy. Most likely this will mean keeping your child at home until he or she has been fever-free (for 24 hours without medicine) and has not had any symptoms of sickness for 24 hours. More information is available by clicking here.
Students Should Bring Their Own School Supplies
Back to school shopping is a tricky concept right now; what do you pick up and what won’t you need? The simple answer is as much as you can. If you can pick up everything your child will need throughout the year then they won’t have to share with another student and that will limit the number of contacts they will make in a day.
Reach out to your child’s teachers if you are not sure what your child needs but be prepared to stock up on items, in addition to your regular purchases like pens, crayons, markers, highlighters and scissors.
Another item that will be needed that is new this year is a face mask. The current plan is for students in Grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear non-medical or cloth masks indoors in school, including in hallways and during classes.
Practice Good Hygiene
Washing cloth face masks regularly, daily bathing, brushing of teeth, and use of deodorant is also important to minimize the spread of bacteria. Get your children in the habit of daily hygiene for the sake of their health – and others around them.
If you have not already been encouraging them to wash their hands for a full 20 seconds after touching anything outside of the home; now is a good time to begin.
Pack Extra Hand Sanitizer/Hand Wipes
A recent survey by FinanceBuzz asked 1,000 parents about their 2020 back-to-school shopping. Poll results showed that 74% of back-to-school shoppers plan to buy hand sanitizer, and 73% will be purchasing face masks.
Dr. Candice W. Jones was quoted in a CNN report that the ultimate goal in every classroom is to reduce sharing as much as possible. She said in the article:
Kids should have a 60% or higher alcohol-based hand sanitizer, which kills most types of bacteria, viruses and fungi. I recommend everyone having their own, not just to avoid hand-washing in communal bathrooms, but also for other situations like on the bus. And it’s important to practice using these items with your child before sending them off to school.
Have An Ample Supply of Masks
Students should have access to 10 to 15 masks they are comfortable wearing, so they can have two or three face coverings available every day. That’s because masks can get sweaty or dirty, and kids need to have a backup mask, just in case. T-shirts, bandanas, and neck gaiters are not acceptable as a face covering. Whether you make or buy them is not important.
If your child hasn’t had the chance of wearing a mask daily for more than six hours, practice now. Your child will be expected to keep a mask on the entire school day, as well as on the bus, so it helps to get them ready now by allowing them to practice at home.
Keep Home Safe by Having a Back-From-School Protocol
Something else to consider as your children return home from school is keeping your home as clean as possible — which includes disinfecting your kids when they come through the door.
Once at home, at the very least they should remove clothes/shoes and place them in the laundry or in a designated safe place for disinfecting. A shower would be great, but is not absolutely necessary.
Dr. Dyan Hes, a pediatrician in New York City, said in a CBS News report it may be a good idea to wash your child’s backpack every day because it’s possible droplets from an infected individual could land on them. She also advised leaving their shoes outside.
Have Daily Conversations With Your Kids
Communications expert, Hollie Dance, was a guest on 2News Fresh Living and said what parents say to and around their kids affects them. She advised that parents get their kids to focus on positive things by asking the right questions, such as:
- What were 3 things you loved about today?
- What is something kind you can do for someone tomorrow?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, rate your day. What would have made it a 10?
- I’m really proud of you because… (Not a question, but the most important thing you can be telling your child).