Though the COVID-19 pandemic isn't over, widespread vaccines and a growing understanding of how the coronavirus spreads are allowing schools to offer in-person learning this fall. Many kids and parents are looking forward to getting back to school, even if there are still some concerns around COVID-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made it clear: students do their best learning when they're in a classroom, and the return to in-person instruction has been a big priority.
As you start preparing your kids for back to school during COVID-19, there are some ways you can help keep them safe and healthy.
Should my kids wear a mask at school?
With the Delta variant of COVID-19 on the rise, experts are recommending that everyone over the age of two should wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth when they are indoors. The American Academy of Pediatrics, in agreement with the CDC, says that all children and adults should be wearing masks in school (unless medical or developmental conditions don't allow it).
They point to a few reasons that they're endorsing this stance as kids go back to school during COVID-19:
- Many students are too young to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
- Monitoring vaccine status among large groups of students and staff is very difficult.
- It's nearly impossible to monitor vaccine status and enforce masks exclusively for unvaccinated people.
- Variants of COVID-19 may spread more easily among young people, and masks are an easy way to slow the transmission.
The CDC offers a few tips on picking out the mask that will work best for your school-age kids to protect them from coronavirus:
- Choose masks that are made for children; they're more likely to fit well.
- Choose masks that have two or more layers of breathable fabric.
- Ensure it covers your child's mouth and nose completely.
- Ensure that it fits snugly against the sides of their face and chin — no gaps.
- Choose a mask with a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out from the top of the mask.
- Avoid masks that are made from fabric that is hard to breathe through.
- Avoid masks that have valves or vents.
Experts recommend washing masks after each wear. Make sure your child has plenty of masks when they head back to school during COVID-19 so that they can be brought home and cleaned after each day of use.
Teach your kids to wash their hands the right way
Handwashing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of many germs that cause illness, including COVID-19.
Make sure your child knows to wash their hands frequently, including:
- Before eating
- Before touching their mouth, eyes, or nose
- Before touching a cut or scrape
- After going to the bathroom
- After touching pets, animals, or pet food
- After playing outdoors or on a playground
- After being close to a person who is sick
- After touching garbage
There are four easy steps to proper handwashing.
Get hands wet and add soap. Use clean, running water. Put soap on your hands and rub to make suds.
Rub for at least 20 seconds. An easy way to know just how long to wash is to sing "Happy Birthday" or "The Alphabet Song" twice. Make sure to clean your palms, backs of your hands, in between your fingers, and under your fingernails, too.
Rinse clean. Run your hands under clean water and rub to get all of the soap off.
Dry. Shake your hands, and then dry them fully on a clean paper towel or under a hand dryer.
Latest Healthy Kids News
Daily Health News
Is hand sanitizer good for kids?
Experts agree: handwashing is the most thorough way to get your hands germ-free. If soap and water aren't easily accessible, alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel can be useful. However, it isn't as effective as soap in removing all of the germs from your hands, including some kinds of viruses.
While it may be a good idea to pack some hand sanitizer for your older kid, make sure they understand that it's not a substitute for old-fashioned handwashing.
Warn your children to maintain physical distancing
Remind your kids that going back to school during COVID-19 means continuing to keep as much distance from their teachers and classmates as possible. Of course, it's not always easy, but studies show that distancing in combination with mask-wearing keeps COVID-19 transmission rates in school very low.
Encourage your kids to opt for outside whenever it's a choice. While it's not impossible to catch COVID-19 outdoors, the transmission rates of the virus appear to be much lower in outdoor spaces.
Ensure your kids sleep well and eat well
Getting plenty of high-quality sleep is key for a strong, healthy immune system. Making sure your kids are well-rested can go a long way towards keeping them healthy when going back to school during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Similarly, eating a healthy, balanced diet can help your kids maintain a strong immune system.
Remember that mental health matters
In addition to keeping an eye on your child's physical health and wellbeing when they go back to school during COVID-19, it's also important to watch for the impact of the pandemic on their mental health. Experts have observed an increase in children experiencing depression, anxiety, anger, elevated stress, and other emotional reactions to this challenging situation.
If you believe that your child isn't coping well with the stress of going back to school during COVID-19, reach out to their school or doctor to learn more about mental health resources in your area.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Academy of Pediatrics: "COVID-19 Guidance for Safe Schools.", "Mental Health During COVID-19: Signs Your Child May Need More Support.", "Safe Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools.", "Your Guide to Masks."
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Nutrition and Immunity."
Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Coronavirus: How to Care for Your Face Mask."
Northwestern Medicine: "Hand Washing vs Hand Sanitizer: Which is better at fighting COVID-19?"
Pflügers Archiv - European Journal of Physiology: "Sleep and immune function."
University of Rochester Medical Center: "Teaching Kids to Wash Their Hands."
World Health Organization: "Episode #40 - Transmission indoors and outdoors.", "Handwashing an effective tool to prevent COVID-19, other diseases."
Top Preparing Kids Going Back to School During COVID Related Articles
11 Tips for Parents Who Work from Home and Virtual School KidsIt’s quite challenging adjusting to working from home, especially when your kids are schooling virtually. Here are 11 ways you can ease the process and make sure you and your kids gain the most from working from home.
Can Parents Spread COVID-19 to Kids?Parents need to be aware that their children can easily contract COVID-19, exercise maximum caution, and follow the COVID-19 protocols to ensure everyone is safe.
Coronavirus: How COVID-19 Affects Your BodyBy now, everyone knows about COVID-19. But do you know how it can affect your body?
COVID-19 (Coronavirus): Mask Mistakes You're Making NowYou're wearing your mask every time you leave home. But could you be making simple mistakes that make your mask less effective? Find out the most common errors that can leave you unprotected and simple ways to fix them.
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Prevention TipsCOVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that spreads from person to person via infected respiratory droplets. The main symptoms of COVID-19 infection include cough, fever, and shortness of breath. Occasionally, people infected with COVID-19 may experience diarrhea, a sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, or aches and pains. Avoiding contact with infected people, social distancing, not touching your face, frequent hand washing, cleaning, and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces can help to reduce your risk of contracting the 2019 novel coronavirus.
Do Face Masks Offer Protection From the New Coronavirus?In 2019, a new coronavirus strain named COVID-19 (or 2019-nCoV) began causing severe respiratory illness and sometimes fatal pneumonia throughout the world. This new coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China. The new coronavirus spreads rapidly via the inhalation of respiratory droplets from infected people. Face masks cannot prevent airborne virus protection, they're difficult to wear for long stretches of time, and you must dispose of the mask after touching it.
Does Vitamin D Protect Against COVID-19?COVID-19 or coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It manifests as mild to moderate respiratory illness in most people who may not require any special treatment. Certain high-risk groups, such as older people and people with underlying health conditions (chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases), are more likely to get seriously ill.
What is Herd Immunity, and How Does It Help to Protect the Population from COVID-19?Herd immunity means that the entire population is better protected against a particular disease. Herd immunity is possible with COVID-19, but the virus is likely to linger for several more years with breakthrough infections.
How Long Is COVID-19 Patient Contagious for?People infected with COVID-19 can still be contagious even when they stop feeling sick, so precautionary measures should continue for at least 2 weeks after symptoms disappear and until the COVID-19 test result is negative. Ideally, patients should be quarantined at home or an institution for 2 weeks after the symptoms completely disappear.
How to Cope With School StressStudents of all ages experience stress related to school. Some coping strategies like taking breaks from technology, sleeping, practicing deep breathing and stretching may help young students.
Tests Available for COVID-19Getting tested for COVID-19 can identify you as a positive or negative patient of the disease. Remember no test is 100% accurate. Different methods of testing have been launched to trace COVID-19 infection.
What Are Some of the Symptoms of COVID-19 in Children?What should you do if your child gets sick during the pandemic? Understand the symptoms of COVID-19 in children and how to manage them.
What Should a Pregnant Woman Do If She Has COVID-19?COVID-19 is a disease caused by a coronavirus. If you are pregnant and you think you have COVID-19, get professional medical help as soon as possible to reduce the risk of medical complications.
COVID-19 (Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV)Infection with COVID-19 (2019 novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV) causes respiratory problems in humans. Transmission of COVID-19 occurs mainly through contact with respiratory sections from an infected person, however, fecal contamination may also spread the virus. Symptoms start off flu-like and progress to coughing, fever, shortness of breath, shaking chills, headache, loss of sense of taste and/or smell, muscle pain, and sore throat. Treatment focuses on supportive care and symptom relief. COVID-19 vaccines are available.
Coronavirus COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) Pandemic Outbreak: What You Need to KnowA new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2) was reported from Wuhan, China in December, 2019. This outbreak of respiratory flu-like symptoms has quickly spread resulting in a worldwide pandemic. Learn about symptoms, treatment, prevention and vaccine efforts.