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10 Tips for Back to School Safety During COVID-19 Coronavirus

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

Whether your child is heading back to school for in-person learning, a mix of in-person and online learning, or virtual learning, it’s essential to teach them how to stay safe, especially during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Our emergency preparedness, safety, and security experts created a list of 10 tips for back to school safety during COVID-19:

1. Teach children how to wear a mask properly

Give children time to get used to wearing a mask for prolonged periods. Children learn best by watching their caregivers, and the Inquirer says, “The best way to teach a child to wear a mask is to set a good example — wear your own mask when out in public and don’t complain. Let your child choose a mask and practice wearing it at home, for instance, while watching a favorite television show.” Explain the importance of mask-wearing in an age-appropriate manner and let children know that they help stop the spread of germs when they are wearing a mask.

2. Review and practice new safety and hygiene protocols

Since the onset of COVID-19, taking preventative health and safety measures has never been more critical. Although we’ve been teaching our children to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, sneeze into the crook of their arm, social distance at least six feet, and not to share toys with their peers, it’s an excellent idea to re-teach these concepts and practice them with children before and during the first month of school.

3. If your child is symptomatic, keep her home and call your pediatrician right away

The CDC says that these are the most common symptoms of COVID-19 in children:

  • Fever

  • Fatigue

  • Headache

  • Myalgia

  • Cough

  • Nasal congestion or rhinorrhea

  • New loss of taste or smell

  • Sore throat

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

  • Abdominal pain

  • Diarrhea

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Poor appetite or poor feeding

If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, keep her home and away from other family members in your house. Call your pediatrician instead of visiting an urgent care clinic, which could cause unnecessary exposure to the coronavirus. For returning to school or child care, the CDC says, “A negative test or doctor’s note should not be required for return to school upon completion of the 10 days of isolation with the improvement of symptoms.”

4. Establish a healthy routine

Many children are learning virtually, or through a hybrid model this school year, so it’s essential for families to establish healthy routines to keep children mentally and physically well:

  • Keep the same bedtime and wake up time as if your child was physically going to school

  • Have children brush their teeth, get dressed and wash up as if they were attending school

  • Keep mealtimes the same

  • Establish set times for recess or free play

  • Engage in activities that encourage exercise and physical fitness

  • Maintain a healthy and nutritious diet

  • Set aside time to check on your child’s mental health and wellbeing

  • Limit distressing television news stories

5. Teach children about bullying and internet safety

Because most children won’t be fully monitored online during the day, the risk of cyberbullying increases. Safewise says, “Understand what cyberbullying is, where and how it happens, and how to spot it. Explain that online bullies can act friendly at first and encourage your child to be on the lookout for any interactions that make them feel bad, scared, or sad.” Parents should also go an extra step and download software that can help identify cyberbullying. “Place the computer in a common room and monitor all screen time. Use a shared email account, and if you let kids interact on social media, make sure you have full access to manage their accounts. Parental control software is another great way to stay in the know,” Safewise suggests.

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6. Don’t forget about traffic safety

Whether or not your child is heading back to school, it’s important not to let your guard down and to continue to obey traffic laws. Teach children:

  • To use sidewalks or crosswalks, and follow all traffic signals for safety

  • Bus safety: getting on and off the bus, walking at least ten feet in front of the bus, and avoiding blind spots

  • Avoid distracted walking or bike riding

  • Take safe, visible routes to school

  • Never talk to strangers

  • Walk or bike together in groups

  • Always wear a helmet if biking to school

  • Never play behind a parked vehicle in the driveway or the street

  • Place all toys to the side of the driveway and away from a vehicle’s blind spot

7. Review newly-implemented safety protocols with your child care program

Between the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, civil unrest, soaring gun sales, massive unemployment, social isolation, depression, and anxiety, child care programs have many worries. Be sure to check your child care program’s parent handbook and emergency plan for new safety updates. Child care providers should be reaching parents through text, email, phone, and social media, as health and safety updates are liable to change day-by-day.