Published on August 19, 2021

Schoolkids disinfecting hands

5 Back to School COVID-19 Precautions

As the new school year is right around the corner, many parents are concerned about their children returning to school this fall, especially due to the new COVID-19 variants. Amra Nasir, MD, Medical Director with Adventist HealthCare Urgent Care, offers some tips to help you feel better about your child returning to school

1. Get vaccinated

“The best thing you can do for your child that meets the age requirements is to have them vaccinated,” explains Dr. Nasir. Currently, children 12 and over are eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine to protect them from COVID-19 and its variants. If you’re unsure if you should get your child vaccinated, talk with your child’s pediatrician to help you make the right decision for your child and family. Check-in with your pediatrician to make sure everyone is up to date on other vaccinations too. The annual flu shot will be important to get this year for everyone age 6 months and up.

2. Discuss safety precautions

Most students are going to be excited to see their friends, especially if they haven’t seen them in over a year. Remind your child what types of precautions you’d like them to take. When children see their friends, they may forget what you asked them to do. Mention the safety measures often leading up to the first day and throughout the year. Some precautions you may want your child to take include:

  • Washing hands often and using hand sanitizer
  • Social distancing from friends
  • Wearing a mask when indoors

3. Know and understand precautions your child’s school is taking

Research what precautions your child’s school is enforcing this year. Some school districts are requiring masks, while others are leaving it to the parent’s discretion. Based on the safety measures the school is taking, you can decide what additional steps you want your child to take or reinforce the precautions with your student. Measures that should be discussed with your child’s school in addition to hand washing, social distancing and masking are:

  • Protocol for someone testing positive for COVID-19.
  • Quarantine requirements for students who are exposed.

4. Schedule your child’s wellness exam

Don’t delay your child’s annual wellness exam. “Annual physicals ensure your child is healthy and growing,” says Dr. Nasir. After a year of taking precautions to ensure we stay healthy, visiting your pediatrician for a well visit will only benefit your child. During this time, you can ask your child’s doctor what steps your child can take at school that will help keep them safe.

5. Be prepared for illness

Many students will become ill as they return to school, but it may not be from COVID-19. Dr. Nasir explains, “as children return to in-person learning, other illnesses like strep, colds and flu will be transmitted from child to child. These illnesses present symptoms similar to COVID-19.” To prevent any virus from spreading, don’t send your child to school if they are sick. Make sure to call the doctor to discuss their symptoms and what steps you should take at home. Have fever-reducing medication and cough medicine available if your child should need it. If you need a COVID-19 test, visit Adventist HealthCare Urgent Care or your doctor’s office.

While you may be nervous for your child to return to in-person learning, it will be beneficial for not only your child, but the whole family. By taking these precautions, know you are doing everything you can to stay healthy and prevent the spread of illness. Your family will be ready to navigate through this new and different school year.

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