How you can ensure your kids’ safety at school this year?
Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels
Getting back into the swing of school can be extremely challenging, particularly if your children were home during the quarantine. No matter how carefully they followed the remote learning process, being in the actual building imposes a structure that may feel a little strange.
Practice mask time
Many regions have mask orders in place and are still sending kids back to school. Being back in the classroom will likely be a huge adjustment, especially for smaller kids. To avoid the challenges of this adjustment, make sure that your child gets to practice wearing a mask so they’re prepared for that requirement if it comes up.
This will be especially problematic for kids with glasses. Work with your child on aligning the glasses over the mask, inhaling through their nose and exhaling down over their chin, or in whatever direction is necessary, to reduce the risk of fogging. If their glasses do fog, work with them to get the top of the mask pinched to prevent air from moving up. Most of all, teach them to set the mask and leave it alone. If your child just can’t get the hang of the mask and the glasses, ask if they can sit in a better spot to optimize their vision if they have to take the glasses off.
One of the challenges with wearing a mask is that, when asked to repeat things, we tend to talk both louder and faster. Louder may help, but faster is never useful. Encourage your child to stop, think, and then repeat themselves slowly and clearly, with lots of consonants. If they need to, clap lightly and ask them to put One Syl-la-ble On Each Clap until they get the hang of slowing down. Not only will this help at school, but the grandparents will appreciate it as well.
Lunches and snacks
Try to pack lunch and snacks for your child so they can carry their food, rather than eating food handled by others. If you need to access the food provided by the school, make sure your child has a hand sanitizer. Again, practice is critical. During the weeks before school starts, let your kids see you apply sanitizer before you eat. Remind them that every time they move from task to task, they can go ahead and wash their hands or sanitize on their own. Encourage them to do this quietly and with no talking or fuss.
Your kids have probably missed their friends and classmates, so getting back together and maintaining social distance may be a challenge. Teachers will have arranged their rooms as effectively as possible for social distancing, but encourage your kids to understand what 6 feet look like and to move quietly away from kids who are too close. Most small chairs and tables are equipped with chair glides to make this movement simple and easy. Again, encourage kids to go with once and done, rather than fiddling with their chair placement.
Set up a drop-off point
As soon as your kids get home from school, require everyone to take off their shoes and leave them at the door. If possible, leave every day clothes for all of you at the front door, change quickly, load all the dirty stuff in a trash bag, and wash it immediately in warm water with soap. Put sanitizing wipes in this area and wipe down all electronics, notebooks, backpacks, travel mugs, and pens. For simplicity’s sake, consider putting chargers in this area as well. Disposable masks can be zipped into an airtight Ziploc bag and discarded, while washable masks can be washed with the clothes you all wore that day. Once changed, make sure everyone washes their hands. Keep everyone away from all of this gear, especially the shoes, until tomorrow morning when you need to leave the house again.
The 2019-2020 school year did not proceed as planned, and the 2020-2021 school year is looking as though it will be a challenge. However, if your child can manage their mask and has a decent idea of what a 6-foot distance is, they lessen their chance of picking up the virus. While your child may struggle with these additional burdens, it is critical for the protection of themselves and the family that they have a working knowledge of wearing a mask and avoiding close contact.