Each fall, parents around the nation prepare to send their children back to school. Under normal conditions, this can be a taxing endeavor with seemingly endless lists of school supplies and reading materials. Under the best of conditions, ‘back to school’ season can still be stressful, albeit exciting. Yet as we continue to confront a global pandemic, many parents are understandably experiencing hesitation and concern over the upcoming school year. Attending school is an essential component of a child’s development and educational achievement. However, we can all agree, this back to school season has its own obstacles.
As schools re-open and families opt to return back to the classroom, many may be wondering what to expect from their educational system. Across the nation, most systems are utilizing new guidelines from the CDC to prepare their facilities for the return of students. But there are also a few additional precautions families can take against COVID-19 while their children return to school.
1. How are schools preparing?
The CDC Guidelines have promoted the need to plan for 4 essential strategies to help promote a safe environment in school buildings:
1) promoting behaviors that reduce spread (e.g. social distancing, washing hands and wearing masks or cloth face coverings),
2) maintaining healthy environments (e.g., ensuring proper ventilation, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces),
3) maintaining healthy operations (e.g., staggering schedules, keeping students in small groups), and
4) preparing for when someone gets sick.
Consequently, school systems (like Knox County) have incorporated tactics to monitor and adapt to changing conditions in case of a COVID-19 outbreak.
2. How can parents best prepare students for this new environment?
Starting within the home to discuss hygienic practices (i.e. washing hands for 20 seconds or more, wearing a mask) can help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. But it is up to parents to have these discussions and communicate the necessity of following guidelines.
Additionally, checking in with your own child’s health each morning is a best practice to reduce the likelihood of spreading COVID-19 to others.
Remembering to check you and your child’s temperature before coming to school is a first line of defense. Children with a temperature of 100.4 or higher should stay home. If you or your child are displaying symptoms of COVID-19, refrain from going to school. Seek medical attention as needed, and consult your school’s regulations and guidelines for visiting your child’s school.
Furthermore, remember to prepare your student with the necessary tools to help keep them healthy. Send them to school with individual hand sanitizers to keep in their backpack, or support their use of the hand sanitizers provided in each classroom. Assure that they maintain six feet of space between others whenever possible, and to wear a mask where required and when physical distancing isn’t possible.
Additionally, get familiar with your school system’s emergency closure plans in case of a COVID-19 resurgence.
Preparing at home for the worst-case scenario and utilizing the tools set in place by your school system can help you get organized in case of any changes to your child’s educational plan.
Although this school year may be more challenging than other years, your child still has an opportunity to experience normal schooling. Your teachers and school officials are all devoted to working tirelessly to promote a healthy environment for your children. By monitoring you and your family’s health, and remembering to take proper precautions, this year can still have a sense of normalcy.
And for those that find themselves at risk: the region can rest easy knowing Integrity Laboratories offers Sars-COV-2 testing that provides precision and speed to get the answers you need.