Back-to-school safety tips during a pandemic

As the start of the school year approaches, school districts are preparing for the possibility of having students back on campus for in-classroom instruction. There is still a lot of uncertainty about the ability of schools to safely welcome students back in person. However, as a parent, you can prepare your child and reduce their risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

You know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, as well as what to do if you think your child might be sick. In addition, you’ve likely spent the entire summer reminding your kid about the everyday precautions he or she needs to take to prevent getting sick. 
But, for all of your efforts, you’ve probably also caught your kid standing way too close to other people, leaving his or her mask in the car or at home, forgetting to wash his or hands after touching common surfaces, and — we all struggle with this one — touching his or her face way too often.

As you prepare to send your kid back into the classroom, be sure to reinforce the everyday COVID-19 precautions he or she will need to keep in mind, as well as what makes these precautions so effective.

Social distancing reduces close contact between people, limiting his or her risk of getting sick via the infectious respiratory droplets a person with COVID-19 releases nearby while breathing, talking or coughing. You should also remind your kids not to share food, drinks, or anything, for that matter, with their friends. It’s just not safe.

Wearing a mask helps contain any potentially infectious respiratory droplets that may be released while breathing, talking or coughing, especially when social distancing is more challenging and even if the person doesn’t yet know they’re sick.

Washing your hands limits the risk of getting sick by touching a contaminated surface and then spreading the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth if you touch your face.

As a parent, you play an incredibly important role as not only a trusted source of information, but also as a confidante.

It’s important your child feels comfortable expressing any concerns or anxiety he or she may have about returning to school during the pandemic, so try to be as available and prepared as possible. Being vulnerable is hard, though, so you may need to be the one to initiate the conversation if the topic doesn’t come up on its own.

Whether your child is concerned about having to wear a mask all day or what might happen if there’s a confirmed case at school, make sure you’re listening intently, empathizing often and helping your child cope with his or her feelings in a reassuring manner.