By Dr. Janet Seabrook
August is normally a time where excitement is high about children returning to school. Normally, we are shopping for school supplies/clothes, scheduling physicals and looking forward to reuniting with classmates.
With COVID-19 in the mix, the whole back-to-school scene has changed.
Districts across the country are grappling with the difficult decision on how to safely return to school.
Because there are still so many unknowns regarding the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) between children and adults, safety first must be paramount. If your child will be returning to the classroom, here are some suggested precautions:
- MASK UP! – Invest in a surplus of masks so that your scholar has one and wears one at all times while in public. Place extra masks in their backpacks, and have regular “pep talks” on why it is important that he or she keeps that mask on while at school.
- USE HAND SANITIZER – Add hand sanitizer to the list of must-haves. Remind your child to sanitize his or her hands between classes, after lunch and after any interaction with others. I know it’s a lot, but better safe than sorry!
- DISINFECT SUPPLIES – Parents and guardians, it’s a good idea to disinfect your child’s backpack, school supplies, etc. daily. Spray items down to provide an extra layer of protection and peace of mind!
- INSPECT AND ASK QUESTIONS — In critical times like these, it is important that you arm yourself with information. Find out what safety pre-cautions are in place at your child’s school. Are there partitions? Are temperatures being check- ed? Will social distancing be practiced? How often are classrooms being sanitized? What happens if a student is diagnosed with COVID-19? Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
- COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR CHILD – Communication will be key as your child returns to school. Ask your child if he/she is having any anxieties about going back to school. Is e-learning the best option for your household at this time? Ask your child about the environment at school and whether safety precautions are being followed. (ex. Is everyone wearing masks? Are you social distancing?)
Parents/guardians, I know that this is a lot to take in because we are all experiencing this new norm together. If your child is experiencing nervousness or anxiety about returning to the classroom, arrange for him/her to talk to a mental health professional. Remember, COVID-19 can impact not only physical but mental health.
Have a safe and happy school year, and remember, your child’s health matters!
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