“As schools reopen, they must balance the educational, social and emotional needs of their students along with the health and safety of students and staff in the midst of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.” (Mayo Clinic)
Schools are reopening in a variety of ways, ranging from 100% distance learning to 100% in-person schooling with safety precautions or a hybrid solution that lies somewhere in the middle.
If your child will be with other students and teachers, then these five tips can help.
Tips #1: Take Social Distancing Seriously
Recommendations by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include keeping at least 6 feet of distance between you and people who aren’t from your household. In another Horizon blog post, we’ve shared tips on how to define 6 feet for children.
The Mayo Clinic lists recommendations for schools to create more space among students, from creating one-way traffic patterns in hallways to using outdoor spaces when it’s practical for meals, classes, recess and more. As a parent, you can talk to your child’s school to find out what social distancing plans they have in place and then share them with your child in ways that can help them to understand.
Tip #2: Provide Enough Masks
The CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend cloth masks to be worn in public places where there will be close contact with others, and schools fit that description. Find out your school’s mask policy and help your child to understand the policy and the reasons for it.
Make sure you have enough cloth masks at home to provide your child with what’s needed. Send a mask and a backup with your child to school each day, putting the extra one in a clean, resealable bag. When your child is eating lunch or in another situation where they can’t wear the mask, it can also go in the bag. Clearly label each of your child’s masks to help prevent usage confusion at school.
#3: Review Good Hand-Washing Hygiene
Washing hands is an important way to help prevent the spread of germs and it’s especially important now in the age of COVID-19. Here’s a hand-washing guide we put together. Find out how often your child can wash their hands at school and what the procedure will be if there is a need for an additional round of washing.
#4 “Hold Off on Hugs”
This is a phrase used by Cedars-Sinai when sharing safety tips for kids who are returning to school during COVID-19. They remind parents how excited children will likely be to see friends daily, and how tempting it might be to greet one another with a big hug. It can help to talk to your child about how someone can have COVID-19 and not show any symptoms—or how a friend could have a grandmother who is ill—and that this is how the virus can spread.
Let your child know that they are really helping others when holding off on hugs, at least for now. Also, explain why it’s also helpful to not share food right now.
#5 Make Sure Vaccinations Are Current
Ask your child’s doctor about recommendations for flu shots and otherwise make sure that shots are all caught up. Although that won’t directly prevent the spread of COVID-19, everything you can do to help your child be in optimal health while in school right now is a real safety plus.