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-: Aug 15, 2020 / John Garrigan

school safety tips during covid-19

As many school districts begin plans to offer in-person classes for students, parents are rightly concerned about the safety of their children during an active pandemic that is still spreading in many cities and counties across the US.

Set the Example

Parents should take the next few weeks prior to school to set a good example when it comes to coronavirus safety guidelines. “I think the most important thing parents can do is to model themselves the behaviors that we wish the children to also adopt while they’re in school,” Dr. Charlene Wong, Asst. Prof. of Pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine, recently told ABC News. Wong said that parents who consistently wear face masks, practice physical distancing from other people, and model frequent handwashing (and why they need to do this) will encourage their children to follow the same behaviors when they’re in the school setting.

Parents are reminded to review and practice proper hand washing techniques at home, especially before and after eating, sneezing, coughing, and adjusting a face cover.

Make hand washing fun and explain to your child why it’s important.

Get kids used to social situations before they go back

In addition to preparing your child for safety risks related to COVID-19, a return to school may pose a needed social readjustment for children who learned remotely for the last part of the recent school year. Give your kids a head-start on feeling comfortable in crowds and social situations by proactively setting up playdates with friends and families.

“Children can’t learn if they don’t feel safe,” Dr. Allie Shapiro, a child & adolescent psychiatrist with Community Psychiatry in Beverly Hills, CA, said in a recent interview. “Assuming kids are going back to school in person, my initial advice is that they practice by safely seeing friends and family prior to their return. It’s best if they become accustomed to being with their peers and the necessary social distancing that will now be required in school in smaller, controlled settings.”

Educate your child NOW on safety precautions to take at school

Children may be advised to:

4.

Avoid sharing objects

with other students. ( ex: school supplies, devices, books, water bottles.

2.

Keep physical

distance from other students.

3.

Wear their cloth face

covering ; never

pick up or use a mask that is not theirs.

1.

Wash and

sanitize thier hands more often.

Check in with your child each morning for signs of illness. If your child has

a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, they should not go to school

Dont send kids to school sick

Check in with your child each morning for signs of illness. If your child has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, they should not go to school. Make sure your child does not have a sore throat or other signs of illness, like a cough, diarrhea, severe headache, vomiting, or body aches.

If your child has had close contact to a COVID-19 case, they should not go to school. Follow the CDC guidance on what to do when someone has known exposure. Make sure you know the nearest COVID-19 testing site where you can take your child for a test.

Bring thier own school supplies

Every student should have their own set of classroom supplies.

Many schools will not be able to provide communal supplies of basics like pencils, pens, highlighters, etc. due to

the need to prevent spread of the virus. And to keep the spread of any infection low, students should not need to borrow supplies from other kids.

Consider placing some extra bottle water bottles in their pack so they refrain from using water fountains

Pack hand sanitizer

Kids should have 60% or higher alcohol-based hand sanitizer, which kills most types of bacteria, viruses and fungi.

FDA recently recalled several sanitizers that contain toxic methanol. (Visit FDAs searchable list to help you identify whether a firms’ hand sanitizer product is being recalled or has potential or confirmed methanol contamination:

https://go.usa.gov/xfCQG

Having their own sanitizer packed away allows them to avoid hand-washing in communal bathrooms and to use in other situations like travelling on a school bus. Parents need to demonstrate (and have child practice at home) how to properly apply a sanitizer and why it’s important to the child and others! Use this month as a training ground for proper hand washing while teaching your child how germs can spread by touching objects or other people.

The CDC recommends that parents have multiple cloth face coverings available, so they can wash them daily and have back-ups ready.

Face Masks

As we have all seen on the news, it’s hard enough convincing some adults to wear face masks, but it’s an entirely different struggle when it comes to children. There are plenty of reasons why children might not want to wear a mask. For some, it’s uncomfortable, while others don’t fully understand the seriousness of the pandemic.

Choose cloth face coverings that:

  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face • Are secured with ties or ear loops
  • Completely cover the nose and mouth • Include multiple layers of fabric

If your child rides a bus, plan for your child to wear a cloth face covering on the bus

Dr. Julia Sammons, the director of the department of infection prevention and control at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, recommends explaining to your child why they need to wear masks and to pro- vide a model for mask etiquette, both at home and through others. “This is a new, unprecedented experi- ence for all of us,” says Sammons. “It will make your child more comfortable to see other people wearing masks. You might even show them pictures of other children wearing masks as well.”

Consider providing your child with a container (e.g., labeled resealable bag) to bring to school to store their cloth face coverings when not wearing it (e.g., when eating).

Plan for transportation

Talk to your child about the importance of following bus rules and any spaced seating rules.

If carpooling, plan on every child in the carpool and the driver wearing cloth face coverings for the entire trip. If your school uses the cohort model, consider finding families within your child’s group/cohort at school to be part of the carpool.

Keep home safe by having a back-from-school protocol

Something else to consider as students head back to school is keeping your homes as clean as possible — which includes disinfecting the kids when they get home. When children return from school they should immediately sanitize their hands. Once at home, at the very least they should remove clothes/shoes and place them in the laundry or in a designated safe place for disinfecting. A shower would be great, but, ac- cording to health experts, is not absolutely necessary.

The past six months have been unprecedented and stressful for all of us but particularly our youth who miss their friends and have been away from socially interactive play and school work.

Mental Health

& Social-Emotional Wellbeing Considerations

It’s important to talk to children about how they are coping and what to expect when they enter a totally different learning experience that they have ever seen!

Since the school experience will be very different from before with desks far apart from each other, teachers maintaining physical distance, and the possibility of staying in the classroom for lunch, it is unlike anything your child is used to. Before school is in session, you may want to talk to your child and explain that all these steps are being taken to keep everyone safe and healthy. CDC’s Stress and Coping During the COVID-19 Pandemic provides additional resources for you and your family.

Somethings to consider:

n Talk with your child about how school will look different (e.g., desks far apart from each other, teachers maintaining physical distance, possibility of staying in the classroom for lunch).

n Talk with your child about how school is going and about interactions with classmates and teachers.

Find out how your child is feeling and communicate that what they may be feeling is normal.

n Anticipate behavior changes in your child. Watch for changes like excessive crying or irritation, excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, difficulty concentrating, which may be signs of your child struggling with stress and anxiety.

n Try to attend school activities and meetings. Schools may offer more of these virtually. As a parent, staying informed and connected may reduce your feelings of anxiety and provide a way for you to express any concerns you may have about your child’s school.

n Ask your school about any plans to reduce potential stigma related to having or being suspected of having COVID-19.

n Check if your school has any systems in place to identify and provide mental health services to students in need of support. If so, identify a point of contact for these services at your school.

n Check if your school has a plan to help students adjust to being back in school. Students might need help adjusting to how COVID-19 has disrupted their daily life. Support may include school counseling and psychological services (including grief counseling), social-emotional learning (SEL)-focused programs and curricula, and peer/social support groups.

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