Are your kids heading back to school? Although staying home is the best way to prevent coronavirus exposure, there are still a few things you can do to approach the school semester as safely as possible.
Gearing Up for Class
School supplies this year are going to look quite different from previous semesters. In addition to pencils and books, you should make sure that your kids have the following items for safety and survival:
Masks: Your kid should be wearing a clean mask every day. Make sure the mask fits, and provide a few extras for their backpack. If the mask is disposable, it will need to be changed before the school day is over.
Hand sanitizer: Give your child a pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer, and encourage them to use it frequently. Remember to refill or replace the bottle regularly throughout the school year.
Prepackaged snacks: Kids get hungry throughout the day, but you don’t necessarily want them standing in the cafeteria line. Provide plenty of healthy snacks in disposable packaging – and don’t forget the bottled water.
Extra supplies: When borrowing a pencil could mean catching a virus, no kid should be coming to school unprepared. Ask teachers what supplies your kids need to have to succeed.
Teaching Social Distancing
Let’s face it: you’re not going to convince a child to stay apart from their closest friends. At some point, they’re going to have a conversation, toss a ball back and forth, or share a snack with a hungry classmate. The fact that student bodies are so vulnerable is precisely why it’s so important to protect them.
However, although you might not be able to isolate children completely, you can help them understand basic social distancing practices. Things like mask-wearing and hand-washing truly do reduce community spread, and students deserve the chance to protect themselves and their friends.
Teach your kids to be aware of how germs spread around a room and a school building. Explain that they should avoid sharing their items, having unnecessary conversations, or straying away from their class.
Don’t forget to ask teachers how they’re planning on explaining and then implementing social distancing procedures at your school. Try to model the behaviors that the teachers are asking for; kids learn best by watching their parents.
Preparing for Quarantine
The best way to prevent community spread is to keep children at home every time there is potential exposure. It might be exhausting to send everyone home whenever someone sneezes, but it’s far worse to risk getting everyone in the community sick because an asymptomatic child was sent to school.
As a parent, you should have plans in place for what you’ll do if classes are canceled. Exposed children can’t be sent to daycare; if you can’t work from home, try to find a friend or family member who can provide isolated childcare and who is not in an at-risk category.
If someone at school gets sick, insist on keeping your own child at home for at least 3-5 days, and request that faculty and exposed students undergo testing. Encourage other parents to support closures; if students stay home, the virus cannot spread.
Ultimately, school requires interaction, and interaction comes with a risk of exposure. Kids can’t be expected to carry the burden of protecting their community, so parents and faculty will have to make sure they’re not exposed to the virus. Talk to your school to find out what steps they’re taking to keep the students and their families safe.