Returning to School After the Pandemic
5 Safety Tips You Should Know
Many students are preparing to return to school this fall, some for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As parents prepare via traditional activities like back-to-school shopping and last-minute summer hurrahs, there are a few additional components to keep in mind to reinforce safety protocols.
This is especially pertinent for those parents who have not had to contend with the reality facing students who may not be accustomed to new cleaning standards, continued social distancing and other measures to keeps safe. Consider a few tips to effectively prepare your child to head back into a physical classroom this fall.
1. Be Prepared
One of the best ways to keep your child safe for the upcoming school year is through preparedness. Stock up on pertinent supplies, including masks in the event that your child’s school has a mask mandate or must implement one at the last minute.
Reinforce good hand-washing habits and remind your child to wash their hands frequently during the school day. If age-appropriate, get hand sanitizer and don’t forget the vitamins. The more prepared you are to reinforce your child’s wellness, the less anxious you will both be about the start of the new year.
Start talking to your child about what to expect when they return to school, so that they won’t feel anxious about some of the changes put in place to reinforce their safety and that of the other students. Encourage them to ask questions, read handouts and engage in good habits (such as frequent handwashing) before the first day.
If your child has questions about what to expect that you cannot answer, write them down. You can either ask the school during orientation or your pediatrician during a wellness appointment before the start of the school year.
2. Update All Vaccinations
Before your child heads back to school, make sure they are up-to-date on all of their required vaccinations. Depending on their age and grade levels, some vaccine boosters may be required before they can enter the next grade.
Check with your local Department of Health to determine what vaccine updates are necessary and schedule an appointment before school starts. For younger children, the COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available. This is one of the reasons that many schools continue to reinforce safety protocols to keep younger student populations as safe as possible.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does recommend that those students who are eligible for the vaccine receive one, especially before going into crowded communal environments (such as the classroom).
3. Learn School Safety Protocols
If possible, learn school safety protocols for your child’s school before the first day. This will help you to feel more prepared and will help as you educate your child about what to expect when they re-enter the school environment.
Check the school website to determine what the safety protocols are for your child’s school. Print them out as a point of reference prior to the new school year and so that you have a guide once it begins.
Many schools are still enforcing some level of social distancing and may require those students who have not yet had the COVID-19 vaccine to continue wearing masks. Schools are also largely continuing to practice the same hygiene and cleaning protocols implemented in the early days of the pandemic.
Students may also be required to wash their hands more frequently and adhere to new rules, such as refraining from sharing classroom items.
4. Implement Healthy Lifestyle Habits
Even outside of concerns about COVID-19, back-to-school time typically means exposure to a hotbed of germs as your child interacts with other kids in close quarters.
Younger kids are particularly prone to colds and other viruses because they are not as adept as older students at maintaining optimal hygiene. The best thing you can do to protect them is reinforce healthy lifestyle habits that will support general wellness.
In the weeks leading up to back-to-school time, get them back on a healthy eating and sleeping regimen, if they are not on one already. Plenty of rest is especially important in fighting off illness.
In fact, it’s a good idea to start early when it comes to cultivating healthy habits, especially if your child has fallen out of some of these habits while away from the classroom.
Encourage them to get plenty of physical exercise and drink water regularly throughout the day. Make sure your child takes their vitamins each day.
The better your child’s general wellness when they return to school, the more you can help to reinforce their immunity against any illness that may be floating around the communal classroom environment.
5. Schedule a Wellness Exam
Schedule a wellness exam with your pediatrician to get a baseline assessment of your child’s health. A full physical is a good way to determine if your child has any underlying health conditions of which you should be aware before the start of the new school year.
This is also a good opportunity to talk with your pediatrician about any concerns you might have about your child’s health. If you have concerns about your child returning to school amid the COVID-19 pandemic, your pediatrician is an ideal resource to share sound and credible safety information. This is a good time to ask for any advice they might have to help keep your child as safe as possible during the school year.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has changed quite a bit in the school environment, your child may be excited to return to the classroom environment. With a little planning and preparation, you can ensure that your child is as safe as possible as they start a new year.
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