While many students are beginning their school year from home in an E-learning format, this is not the case for all. There are several types of learning that will be taking place this fall depending on the school. Some students will be learning entirely online from home, some will take on a hybrid learning program, meaning they will learn partially online and partially in-person, and some students will attend full-time, in-person learning. While both experts and parents agree that physically attending school has many benefits and is an important part of a child’s development, there are also a lot of concerns surrounding the risks of in-person learning due to COVID-19. By taking the proper precautions, however, parents, teachers, and school administrators can reduce the chances of in-person learners contracting and spreading COVID-19. Here are some ways to ensure your child’s safety at school during COVID-19.
Reinforce Everyday COVID-19 Precautions
Before your child returns to school, reinforce the everyday COVID-19 precautions that the CDC has been recommending throughout the pandemic. One of the most important precautions to make your child very aware of is the importance of wearing a mask. Label the masks that your child is bringing to school to ensure that they do not mix them up with another student’s mask. Reinforce to your child that is especially important to wear their mask when they cannot maintain a 6-foot distance from those around them. Also remind them that, while they may be excited to see their friends, it is important to try their best to social distance when possible to avoid contracting or spreading germs. Other recommendations made by the CDC include washing your hands often, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, and monitoring your health daily.
If Possible, Avoid the School Bus
If your child takes the school bus each morning and there is not another feasible daily mode of transportation for them, confirm that your school’s bus system has adapted to COVID-19 and has implemented new safety measures. The CDC recommends students wear a mask at all times and sit one child per row, skipping rows as much as possible. Other preventative measures may include increased sanitization of buses and using hand sanitizer upon boarding the bus. Besides windows, however, school buses do not have substantial ventilation and air circulation, so despite precautionary measures, students are still at risk of contracting or spreading illness on the bus. Because of this, parents may want to consider taking their child to school themselves, if possible. Another option that many students have turned to is a “walking school bus”, where an adult chaperone leads children who live nearby to school on foot, as the risk of contracting COVID-19 is lower outside than inside due to increased ventilation.
Review Your Child’s School Safety Measures
What the School Should Be Doing To Ensure a Safe Return For Students
The decision of whether or not to return to in-person learning is in the hands of school administrators in collaboration with local health officials and is based on several factors. If the school administrators are in favor of students returning for in-person learning, there are sure to be safety precautions put in place that did not exist before the COVID-19 outbreak. Before their return, you should review the safety measures that your child’s school will be following. The CDC recommends that schools implement strategies across 4 key areas to reduce the spread of COVID-19: promoting behaviors that reduce spread, maintaining healthy environments, maintaining healthy operations, and preparing for when someone gets sick. Schools will determine in cooperation with state, tribal, territorial and local health officials whether and how to meet these needs based on the state of the local community. Before sending your child back to school, check with the administration to make sure they are implementing these basic strategies.
Changes in Your Child’s “Normal” School Day Upon Return
Some of these changes include an altered classroom environment that incorporates social distancing, sanitization practices, and sometimes even a physical barrier between students. Additionally, many schools are requiring daily temperature checks of all students. Even if your child’s school is doing this, we recommend making a habit of taking your child’s temperature at home each morning, so that if they do have a fever they can remain in your home and not put other students, teachers, and faculty at risk. Another safety strategy recommended by the CDC, which applies mostly to younger students, is cohorting: the practice of students remaining with the same teacher and group of students throughout the day to limit exposure. Talk to your child about these changes and help them understand the reasoning behind them and the importance of following new rules and guidelines.
Provide Your Child With a COVID-19 School Kit to Keep in Their Backpack
Even if the school does not require one, make your child a COVID-19 School Kit, a bag of everything they will need to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 while at school. Some items essential to a COVID-19 School Kit include several masks, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, tissues, dry erase markers, and a reusable water bottle. These items protect students from contracting or spreading germs, allow them to have their own cleaning and sanitizing supplies on hand, and help to reduce the number of frequently touched surfaces at school. Sending your child to school with a COVID-19 School kit is one of the best ways to protect them from the potential risks of in-person learning, and Medivico has got you covered. We offer COVID-19 School Kits containing everything your child will need to stay safe while optimizing their school experience. Fill out our contact form on our website to learn more about our COVID-19 School Kits.
Students with Underlying Conditions or Disabilities
Before sending your child back to school for in-person learning, you must consider the risks versus the rewards, as physically returning to school may not be the best decision for all students. The CDC believes that in-person learning and a school environment provides children with not only an education, but also supports children’s social and emotional skills, safety, mental health, reliable nutrition, and opportunities for physical activity. However, children with underlying medical conditions are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. There are also more COVID-19 cases reported in children with intellectual and developmental disabilities than in those without. Furthermore, it is important to take into consideration if your child lives with anyone with an underlying condition or a disability. Weigh the benefits of your child receiving an in-person education with the risk of them potentially bringing germs into your household and infecting family members. Consult with a doctor if you are unsure about this decision, as the best option for your child and your family may be for them to not physically return to school.
While the suggestions and factors mentioned above are important and effective when it comes to keeping your child safe at school during COVID-19, it is imperative to recognize that there are many other factors to take into consideration. The decision for a student to return to in-person learning should be made on an individual basis, as this may not be the right choice for everybody. Regardless of the decision you make for your child, remember to wear a mask, and continue to keep your home clean and disinfected to help ensure the health and safety of you and your family.