Preparing Your Child For Back To School COVID Style
Many children will be heading back to school in the next couple of months. School may not look the same as it did last fall, but like every year, going back to school takes some preparation. There are some things you can do to help your child's transition back to school in this new normal.
Staying safe from COVID involves some basic general good health measures. Before the school year starts, have your children going to bed at a good hour so that they get at least 10 hours of sleep nightly. Starting this routine early will make it easier once school begins. Adequate nutrition is important for good health. Of course it is helpful to limit lots of processed foods and encourage more whole foods like meat, veggies, fruits, and dairy as opposed to packaged sweets, chips, and crackers. While there is no absolute proof to validate supplements, I have been giving my children a multivitamin and about 500 mg of Vitamin C. If your child is not getting a good amount of sun, consider adding 600 IU daily of Vitamin D as well.
I think it is important not to let our children see us stressing about school, illness, and masks. Often they see how we react and mimic that reaction, so remaining positive about wearing masks, being in the classroom with a teacher and classmates, frequent hand washing and sanitizing, and changes with recess and lunch routines is really important. I like to talk honestly about why we are encouraging these changes and reassure our children that while these changes may seem different, they are to keep us all safe.
As annoyed as many people are with masks, I think wearing them at school is important. We don't know how much they help but it seems likely that they are beneficial in preventing spread. They won't stop all spread, but if they help some, I think it is worth it. We have to expect that there will be some illness. When that happens, schools have a plan and will keep us informed.
This is a great time to talk to our children about hygiene. Hand sanitizer should be abundant. Teach them how to wash hands well. I always encourage my children to avoid touching any unnecessary surfaces. For some reason, children touch EVERYTHING! I think this is a good time to remind them of the germs that are on all those surfaces and encourage avoiding touching railings, doors, etc that are not necessary. In my family, we hand sanitize after going to the store, and then wash our hands every time we get home from an outing. I think it will be important to hand sanitize or wash before and after eating, recess, and other trips outside the classroom.
As a community, it is important for us to rely on one another in times that illness does occur. If your child is feeling ill in any way, it is important not to send them to school. This means if they have a fever, headache, sore throat, upset stomach, congestion, cough or any other illness it would be best for them to stay at home. If your child needs to take tylenol or ibuprofen, he or she should not go to school. It is important to communicate with the school and your child's physician in the event of illness. As always, avoid contact with family and friends who are ill. As adults we should model good social distancing and be cautious about large gatherings.
While immunizations are always important, it is even more important to stay current on immunizations during a pandemic. Make sure your children have all their recommended vaccines. Make sure they get a flu shot. We want to minimize all kinds of illness and getting a flu shot is an important part of that. Another habit to encourage is good physical activity. Take time for a family walk in the evening. Play a game of dodge ball in the yard. Talk to your children about school and stay involved in the day to day. Be prepared to honestly answer their questions.
This fall is uncharted territory for all of us. Have compassion for others who don't handle this the way you do. Give your child's teacher some extra encouragement. Keep things as normal as possible and maintain a positive attitude as much as possible. Together, we can get through this virus and thrive!