Oh, 2020 – you have been a year. Now, not only do we still have to navigate this virus, but we also have to figure out how to send our children back to school safely. Although the school system is taking steps to help, parents are tasked with the bulk of the decisions about what is best. For many, homeschooling is not an option so knowing how to prepare and what to do going forward is essential.
Beyond the Usual Advice
We have all seen the videos and commercials about how to prevent the spread of this invasive illness – wash your hands, wear a mask, stay six feet apart. However, there are other tactics you can use as a parent to protect your child. For younger children:
- Buy a unique mask for your little one. A Spiderman or Frozen mask will help your elementary student know which mask is his/hers. It may also inspire a reluctant child to wear a mask. If you have an older child, let him/her choose a cool design. Be a role model for your child and wear a mask yourself to help them adjust.
- Provide two clean cloth masks in plastic bags for each day. Children are bound to drop a mask or lose it during the day so having two or even three is a good idea.
- Teach your kids to put on and take off the mask. Practice putting the mask in a plastic bag to keep it clean during lunchtime.
- Little and big ones may need a lesson in thorough handwashing as well as advice on how often this should happen. Go over a reasonable schedule for handwashing or sanitizing.
- Take everyone’s temperature each morning before leaving home. Any temp over 100.4 should be a stay-at-home situation. You may consider buying an oxygen saturation monitor to measure the oxygen saturation of each individual in your home every day. A drop in oxygen level is a common Covid19 indicator.
- Use a disposable brown bag for lunches. Eliminating more germs that a lunchbox picks up is vital to combating the virus. Just imagine the pathway of a lunchbox – from the cubby to the desk to the lunch table and back to the cubby. There could even be more surfaces it touches along the way so a throw-away bag is much safer.
- Send a water bottle to avoid the use of water fountains at school.
- Work with neighbors and friends to provide a way for kids to walk to school together with adults taking turns rather than riding the bus, if possible. A bus is a petri dish for all kinds of germs, even with regular cleanings. If your home is too far away, think about people who might be able to help with carpooling.
- Explain to your child that being socially responsible is part of caring for others. Point out older people such as grandparents, those with cancer or heart conditions, and so on. Talk about how the virus can spread from a child to an adult and then on to many people.
- Kids are often asymptomatic but can be carriers of the virus. It may be a wise decision to have your child shower upon returning home from school rather than in the evening or morning. Clothes that are worn that day should be put in a hamper and washed – no wearing clothes more than once. The usual afterschool process should also include removing shoes, storing backpacks in a closet or spraying them with Lysol, washing water bottles and hands immediately, and putting masks in a hamper.
- Wipe all surfaces before cooking, after meals, and before bed to eliminate the danger of virus germs.
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