Returning to School in a COVID-19 World
With most school systems opening for in-person instruction this fall, parents will need to be aware of their school’s policies and protocols, and be sensitive to their child’s anxieties about returning to the classroom.
Here are some helpful tips for parents with children returning to school.
- Perform a daily morning check, looking for signs of illness. If a child has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or above, he or she should stay home. Children who may have come in contact with individuals with COVID-19 infections should not go to school until tested.
- Know your COVID-19 testing options. The last thing a parent wants to do with a potentially infected child is to scramble around to learn where he or she can be tested.
- Establish a hygiene routine. With more public contact, children should practice hand hygiene, especially after eating, sneezing and coughing. Make sure they use the fold of their arm to cover sneezes and coughs. Adopt a “back at home” routine that includes hand washing.
- If masks are required, have multiple masks on hand so that they can be washed daily, with back-up masks at the ready.
- Speak with your boss to let him or her know that working from home may become necessary if a child becomes sick or school shuts down.
Supporting The Child’s Transition
The pandemic has not been solely an assault on physical health; it’s also been a challenge to mental health. Children will need the emotional support of parents to help them manage the stress of new routines and scary health talk.
- Children take their cue from adults, so stay calm and reassuring at all times. Let them know that you wouldn’t send them to school if it was unsafe to do so.
- Create a daily, predictable routine for the child. Children find comfort and security in knowing what to expect.
- Make sure they eat and sleep well.
- Help them to think positively. Ask them what they liked about their day and what they’re looking forward to tomorrow.
- Talk to a health care professional if you see symptoms of anxiety or behavioral problems.
- Limit news coverage in the house. If there is a resurgence of infections this fall and winter, there will be plenty of news stories that can only serve to overwhelm and scare a child.
- Remind them that school hours may change so it doesn’t come as a surprise.
- Spend time with your children. In uncertain times, more shared activity between a parent and child has never been more important.
As with all things in a COVID world, returning to school requires flexibility and empathy. Be the rock your child needs by remaining diligent and caring.
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