The preponderance of evidence indicates that children are not super spreaders of COVID-19, and are not likely to be severely ill if they contract the disease. Experts agree that children should go back to school in the fall, because staying home any longer would have a negative impact on their mental, behavioural and developmental health.
Being Well Prepared for Back to School during COVID-19
Before sending them back to school, teach your children how they can help protect themselves and others from infection. Make sure they know how to wash their hands, cough and sneeze into their bent elbow or into a tissue, and that they should avoid touching their eyes, mouth or nose if they haven’t properly washed their hands first.
If your local government or school ask that your children wear a face covering at school or when riding the bus, make sure to have a supply of appropriately sized face coverings on hand. Teach your children how to put it on and remove it in a safe way.
If your children have food allergies or a health condition that requires them to take medication while at school, make sure to visit your pharmacy at least a week before school starts to ensure they will have everything they need. Talk to the school nurse to understand if the new sanitary measures will impact how your children will have access to their medication.
Coping with the Anxiety of Going Back to School
Going back to school can be stressful for children under any circumstances, but even more so in pandemic times. Inquire about the measures that will be implemented when school resumes, so that you can explain them to your children (for example, physical distancing, having to stay within their classroom, no sharing of food or personal items).
Encourage your children to ask questions and express their feelings. Be patient and understanding, give them affection, and reassure them that they’re safe. Respond to their reactions in a supportive way and explain to them that these are normal feelings.
Two weeks before school starts, begin reintroducing school routines, including wake-up and bedtimes. If they’re attending a new school this year, ask if it’s possible to visit the school beforehand so they can familiarize themselves with their new surroundings. These measures will help ease their anxiety by preparing them for the return to school.
A New Back-From-School Routine
Set up a new back-from-school routine: when they get home, have your children wash their hands and put their face coverings in the laundry. Then disinfect their lunchboxes. Introduce these new rules in a reassuring and age-appropriate way.
Our children are global citizens who play a key role in our society and our future. Coordinate with the school to receive information and make sure your children understand the importance of the sanitary measures.
Remember: if your children are sick, keep them home from school and notify the school of their absence and symptoms. Don’t forget that your community pharmacist is an invaluable resource for your health-related needs and questions!