For months, parents around the world have been quarantining with their children to protect their families from COVID-19. But, now, as the numbers of new cases go down and the virus’s peak has passed, there’s talk of schools reopening.
So far, the news tells us schools will open in September. And if this makes you feel uneasy or concerned about your children’s wellbeing, you’re not alone. But, worry alone will not help. The question we must ask is, what steps can parents take to protect their children at school?
Wearing a mask
It isn’t enough to put a mask on your child and send them to school. Often things that seem simple to adults are difficult for children to understand. A child may take off a mask because they’re uncomfortable or because their nose was itchy.
Many parents are hoping cartoon masks will appeal to their children. But what is stopping your child from swapping their Tom and Jerry mask for another child’s Ben 10 one? If you want to keep your child safe, you need to talk to them. Explain to them why masks matter so much.
The term of 2020 is social distancing. Children understand things in context, so your child may wash their hands at home, but they aren’t used to social distancing at school. The chances are without the proper discussion, they’ll go back to what they usually do at school. You need to tell them why they can’t hug their friends, swap toys, or share lunch boxes and water bottles. Because it only takes two kids drinking from the same bottle to put your family at risk.
Once schools open, every family will have to develop a routine to disinfect daily. Some normal steps include changing clothes and shoes, showering, and separating the “outside” items from the “inside” things. You may want to set up a room or washroom for this purpose. That way, minimal germs enter the house.
One step parents can take to make the process easier is to get washable cloth backpacks. We know by now that the virus can stick to any surface. So, if an infected person touches, sneezes, or coughs on your child’s backpack, they can bring the virus home. Getting washable bags makes it easy to wash and disinfect bags regularly.
It’s easy to rely on school lunches, but you don’t know who is making them. There’s always some level of risk with outside food. Try to send your child to school with a packed lunch. Make sure they have a spoon and fork, and a water bottle. And that they don’t take anything from anyone else.
Question the school
Schools are required to take steps to protect students before they can open. As a responsible parent, you can ask your child’s teacher how many students per classroom, the distance between desks, steps for social distancing, and mask policies. Also, inquire about any new learning methods since most schools will try a ‘blended learning’ approach that combines classroom teaching with home learning.
Coronavirus is the new reality that we have to live with…and rather embrace. On the opening of schools, schools and parents should partner to develop a better strategy to prevent the spread of virus.