Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the biggest challenges for parents has been how to let children be children while keeping them safe. And, as schools continue to re-open across the country amidst widespread concerns for health and safety, that concern is being amplified.
Experts widely agree that face-to-face teaching works best, which is why it’s important to get youngsters back in their classrooms. As schools reintroduce in-person learning, there are several steps that parents can take to keep their kids safe and give themselves peace of mind. Here are our top back-to-school tips for COVID-19.
Understand Safety Measures
Even if your child’s school is implementing dozens of safety protocols, there will inevitably still be dangers present. So, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published guidelines for keeping schools safe during the pandemic.
Here’s what you need to ask your child’s school:
- Have changes been made to classrooms, hallways, and other spaces to ensure that social distancing is possible?
- Are masks required for all staff and students (if it’s age-appropriate)?
- Is the use of shared equipment being minimized?
- Is hand sanitizer available and will students be prompted/allowed to wash their hands frequently?
- Has cleaning been increased and how frequently will surfaces be disinfected?
- Is there a stay-at-home policy for students and staff with symptoms of COVID-19?
- Will sports and activities continue, and if so, how will safety be ensured?
- How is community spread being monitored?
Speak to Your Kids About Their Concerns
It’s natural for children to be worried about returning to school. The pandemic is an unknown entity for all of us, so concerns are completely normal.
To help keep your kids safe and happy, regularly speak to them about how they’re feeling in school. Ask them what it’s like being back at school, and encourage them to talk about the ways that their days have changed from pre-coronavirus times. Speak about the measures we’ve listed in this article, and suggest proactive ways for your children to stay safe and feel comfortable in classes.
Having an open conversation can uncover any anxiety that your kids are suffering with, and will allow you to follow up with their teachers if anything particularly worrying reveals itself.
Do Your COVID-19 Homework
Before your kid heads back to school, make sure you know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19. It’s also important for you to know how to take proper precautions against spreading coronavirus, and for your children to properly understand them, too.
Make sure you and your family have discussed the following steps for preventing the spread:
Aim to reduce any close contact with other people. This helps prevent the possibility of infection through respiratory droplets that are expelled when an infected person speaks, breathes, and coughs. Reinforce the fact that sharing food, drink, or anything else should be avoided, too.
Regularly washing hands and using hand sanitizer limits the possibility of getting sick by touching a contaminated surface followed by touching the eyes, nose, or mouth.
Wear a Mask
Wearing a mask is the best way of limiting the spread of the virus via infected droplets. This is especially important in situations where social distancing isn’t entirely possible, which may include your child’s school. Kids masks are available which are better fitting for youngsters, and washable ones are great for protecting the environment and keeping costs down.
Encourage Healthy Habits
Keeping kids healthy is always a top priority for parents, but ensuring that your little ones are well is especially important during a pandemic. Children often imitate their parents, so try implementing the following habits into your household to keep the entire family fit and healthy:
Eating well is key for keeping your kids healthy. Start the day with a healthy breakfast and eat together as a family as often as possible. Add more fruit and vegetables to your diet, as well as whole grains like oats and brown rice. Keep an eye on serving sizes and don’t demand a clean plate if your child says that they’re full.
Keep snacks healthy and varied to ensure kids are getting plenty of nutrients, and if you’re worried about their vitamin intake you can speak to your doctor about adding supplements to their diet.
Lockdown has made it difficult for families to be active, so try to add more movement into every day now that restrictions have loosened. Aim for between 30 and 60 minutes of movement per day, either as concentrated activities or in smaller chunks throughout the day.
Aim to make family time more active by going on walks and bike rides, or shooting hoops and playing catch. Movement can also be achieved through chores in the home, which is a great excuse for getting your kids involved with vacuuming and gardening.
Trust Your Instincts
One of the key things that a parent can do in worrying times like these is to trust their instincts. Using the guidance listed in this article, follow your gut and act on any concerns that you or your child has.
It’s also important to make decisions that are best for your family. If you feel that it’s in your child’s best interest to keep them in online classes for a while longer, discuss this with your child’s school. There’s no right or wrong way to navigate being a parent in a pandemic, but following your instincts will help you have confidence in your decisions.
If your children are young, have them watch this fun video about staying safe in school.