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Preparing for school takes on new meaning amid COVID-19

Preparing for school takes on new meaning amid COVID-19

Your school shopping list may look a little different this year. Whether your child is returning to learning in person, virtually or a combination, there’s a renewed focus on health and safety measures.

While health officials continue to learn more about COVID-19 and its effect on children and those they interact with, some tried and true basics can help keep our community healthy.

“Wash your hands, wear a mask, maintain a safe distance from others, monitor for symptoms and stay home when you’re sick remain a great line of defense in protecting yourself and others against COVID-19 and other illnesses,” Tony Varma, DO, Infectious Diseases, said. “These tips and wearing a mask when you’re in close proximity to others for a prolonged period will slow the spread of germs.”

Many parents are asking, “Should I send my kids back to school?” People see schools and medical institutions as places of safety and knowledge but with many unknowns, they face tough decisions right now.

“There’s a lot we don’t know for sure,” said Neena Tripathy, MD, associate medical director, Pediatrics.  “But we do know keeping up with your child’s immunizations and monitoring any chronic issues facing your child (diabetes, obesity, heart or lung issues and asthma) are also key in maintaining health.”

Carle providers are completing annual physicals and those required for students entering Kindergarten, sixth and ninth grades, as well as student athletes playing on a school sports team for the 2020 season. Schedule your school or sports physical now with your primary care provider. Sports physicals are also available at one of our Convenient Care locations or Carle Sports Medicine.

So what can you do to help prepare for returning to school when you don’t have all the answers?

“Remember children will do best when we share words of hope, excitement and encouragement,” Dr. Tripathy said. “While there is a lot of uneasiness about what the fall may look like, we can all strive to remain vigilant and positive and prepare to the best extent possible.”

School district plans vary widely and individual families may have special circumstances to consider so there is no one size fits all approach or black and white answers. Pediatricians acknowledge setting children up for success starts with taking steps to prepare them for what’s ahead.

“Talk to your child about what to expect. Ask them how they are feeling about it. Try to find positives,” Dr. Tripathy said. “Offer words of reassurance and encouragement but be realistic with them as well.”

  • Consider if your child or a household member has underlying health conditions that place you at greater risk.
  • Find out what steps your school is taking with regard to physical distancing, cleaning, class size, eating and outdoor area and busing procedures and be informed on their plans.
  • Discuss their flexibility in their plans if cases rise.
  • Ask how they will inform parents if your child is infected or exposed.

“We’re in really new territory here. It’s stressful and confusing,” Dr. Tripathy said. “I think most parents are really just trying to do what’s best for their children and family so a little understanding and patience can go a long way.”

Start mask wearing routines at home by explaining why it’s important to wear it when you’re around others.HPBR042020-COVID-Spreading-Social-Graphic-Twitter-r2.jpg

  • Give kids time to look at it, touch it and get used to wearing it. Practice at home.
  • Encourage kids to decorate their mask or choose one that fits their personality or features a favorite animal, sports team, color, etc.
  • Make them together. No-sew options are available online with easy to follow instructions. Families can make them with items around the house.

Categories: Staying Healthy

Tags: children, COVID-19, health, pediatrics, safety, school

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