How to avoid COVID-19 going back at school? It’s the #1 question on parent’s minds these days. Sending the kids back to school is nerve racking every year. However 2020 has taken that up about 1000 notches! Here are a few things to consider.
If your child is attending school in person, change up the cleaning routine. Rather than waiting until the end of the day to bathe and change into clean clothes, consider moving this ritual to right after the school day. This will ensure that your child gets a good, lathery scrub after a busy day, and will decrease the chance germs will be carried into your home on shoes and clothing. Keep shoes outside and wash clothing items according to routine directions.
If your child has sensitive skin or eczema, frequent hand washing can lead to skin breakdown, cracking, and itch. Talk with the teacher about hand hygiene protocols used in the classroom and ask if your child could use products brought from home. Hand washing with soap and water is preferred over alcohol-based hand sanitizers for people with eczema. In addition, allowing your child to carry a small tube of quality moisturizer to apply after every hand washing will reduce the drying effects.
Symptoms at school
If your child experiences any symptoms of illness while at school, it’s important to be prepared with an illness plan. Depending on the symptoms observed, it is possible that your child will have to stay out of school for 2 weeks, regardless of testing. Talk with your employer and other care providers so you can have an action plan at-the-ready, just in case you need to urgently be away from work or school for an extended time to care for your child.
Stock up your medicine cabinet for the upcoming cold and flu season. Things I keep on hand include ibuprofen, acetaminophen, a long-acting, non-drowsy antihistamine like Children’s Allegra, various sized bandages, an antiseptic solution or cream, ice packs, a heating pad, tissues, electrolyte solution like Gatorade or Pedialyte, ginger suckers for nausea, popsicles, applesauce, saltine crackers, and, of course, chicken noodle soup. Also, be sure that you refresh your cleaning closet with carpet cleaner, a quality bathroom cleaner, and bleach wipes.
Buses, hallways and playgrounds
Viral illnesses, including COVID-19, are spread through shared air. Since it is very difficult to maintain proper physical distancing on the bus, wearing masks from bus stop to destination will help limit the respiratory spread of illness. Buses should travel with windows open and only members of the same household should share a seat. As the weather begins to cool, be sure kids are dressed accordingly.
As we learn more about the novel coronavirus, we are less concerned about transmission of the virus on objects. Therefore, playing on a community playground is likely a safe activity. If you are planning to take a walk to a nearby playground, don’t make promises to your kids that they will, in fact, be able to play. Enjoy your walk together and keep an eye on the equipment. Is the playground empty? Then let your kids enjoy a few minutes of play while you relax. Give a good scrub with hand sanitizer as soon as play is done, followed by a soap and water wash once you arrive home. Is the playground busy? Keep on walking and save the play for next time.
Even with staggered starts and scheduling modifications, traveling in busy hallways remains a high-risk area for illness transmission. Make sure your child has a well-fitting cloth or surgical mask to wear while entering and exiting the school building and during all times he or she is walking in common areas. Multi-layered cotton masks are preferred to single layer masks or neck gaters. Practice, practice, practice wearing a mask while at home to ensure your child’s mask is.a proper fit, and to get your child comfortable with extended mask wearing. Be sure your child has a few extra masks in his or her backpack to make a quick change if the mask gets wet or dirty. Wash masks well after every use.
Students at higher risk
For students at higher health risk, back to school choices may look different than other families. Now is the time that parents need to be active advocates for their children, prioritizing health and safety while supporting educational progress. This fall, school may look different for kids at higher risk. Most schools across the country have virtual options to continue education from home. As in all things, there are benefits and drawbacks to changing to this unfamiliar educational format. Until we know more about the effects of the novel coronavirus in high-risk children or until the risk is safety mitigated, approaching the school year with a positive attitude and flexibility will help both you and your child make positive progress this year while staying safe.
Back to school for allergy sufferers
This is a unique year for seasonal allergy management. Even for children with historically mild allergies, parents want to know what they can do to eliminate the sneezing or runny nose caused by seasonal allergies that could be confused with the symptoms of infectious illness. The good news is there are effective and safe seasonal allergy medications available over the counter. Keeping a child’s symptoms comfortably controlled while avoiding drowsy side effects is very important during the school day. For best results, choose a long acting, non-drowsy antihistamine, like Children’s Allegra.
Runny noses and masks don’t mix. Children need effective control of the runny nose to limit potential contamination and moisture on their face mask. Long acting, non-drowsy antihistamines, like Children’s Allegra, help with the itching and runny nose that seasonal allergies can bring. In addition to over the counter oral antihistamines, remember to teach children how to effectively blow their nose and to use hand sanitizer after blowing. And extra masks are a must — as soon as a mask gets wet, it should be replaced with a new one. If nasal symptoms persist, consider adding a nasal corticosteroid to your child’s daily routine. These nasal sprays are also available over the counter and can be used in addition to a long-acting oral antihistamine.