Returning to school safely during the COVID-19 pandemic
9/8/2020 by Anna Kellund, MD
Opening schools during the COVID pandemic has created new challenges and difficult decisions for families and school systems. Some children will be engaged in distance learning, while others will have a hybrid of in-person and virtual classes. Many parents are wondering how to keep their kids safe this school year and make their transition back to school as smooth as possible.
For children returning to in-person classes, we know that masks are an effective way to help prevent spread of COVID-19. Here are a few helpful tips for educating your child on safety:
- Teach your child that their mask goes over both their nose and mouth.
- Have a few different masks for your child so that you can easily wash or replace masks that become dirty or misplaced.
- Many children also enjoy picking out fabrics with characters or designs they like, which makes mask wearing a little easier!
- Talk with your child about what they can expect at school, such as staying six feet apart from others and frequent hand washing.
- Most importantly, keep your child home from school if they are ill.
If your child will be engaging in virtual or distance learning, you may have questions about how to help them stay focused while not in the physical classroom. Maintaining routines at home can help with focus, as can creating a dedicated space for learning. Staying in touch with friends through apps like FaceTime is an option so that your child can remain socially connected even while staying physically distanced. Peer interaction is crucial for children, especially teens.
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) websites have reliable and up-to-date information about COVID and returning to school. If you have questions or concerns about safety at school during COVID, please reach out to your family's primary care provider. They will be able to provide the best recommendation based on your child's health history and current well-being.
Dr. Anna Kellund is a pediatrician in Primary Care in Rochester and Kasson's Division of Community Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. She is an instructor in Pediatrics and has interests in undergraduate and graduate medical education.