Posted 02 Nov, 2020
Help your children stay safe at school during COVID
As COVID-19 cases rise, many families are left feeling uncertain about their children’s safety at school. The option for virtual learning is still there, but many parents either cannot or don’t want to home-school their children. There are many positives to a traditional education environment. At school, students learn social and emotional skills, get exercise, and have access to support systems that are often not available in online learning environments. If you believe that in-person learning is the best option for your family, we’re here to offer you some friendly advice about how to send your kids to school safely.
Step one is information. Familiarize yourself with your child’s school’s COVID safety policies, and make sure your child understands all the important parts of those safety policies as well. Don’t be afraid to contact the school and ask any questions you have if you are unsure or uncomfortable about anything you’ve learned. You deserve to feel confident that attending school is as safe as it can be for your child, and your confidence will help them to be happier and less nervous about going to school as well.
Establish a routine
Everyone’s routines are a little wonky right now, but establishing a schedule will help children to feel secure even in an uncertain situation. If your child is blending online learning with in-person education, have a schedule in place for both days. Scheduling family meals is a great way to add structure to your day, especially if your children are learning from home.
Reinforce good behaviours
You can’t be there with your child at school, but you can help them learn healthy, safe habits by reinforcing them at home. Encourage your children to wash their hands frequently: before they leave for school and after they get home; before and after eating; after using the washroom; after sneezing, coughing, or blowing their nose, after using frequently touched surfaces. Send them to school with a small bottle of hand sanitizer, and encourage them to sing or hum a song for 20 seconds to help them wash their hands for long enough to be effective. Remind your child to avoid touching their face if they haven’t washed their hands recently.
Make certain that your child knows how to wear their mask, and impress upon them how important keeping it on is. Show them how to fit it properly, so it covers their nose and tucks under their chin, and make sure they know how to take it off and put it on properly. Putting a mask on whenever you leave the house will provide plenty of opportunities to practice, so you can feel confident that your child knows what to do when you’re not around.
Consider taking your child’s temperature, and take note of any signs of illness such as a sore throat or sneezing. It’s more important than ever that your child stay home if they are not feeling well, so don’t take any chances.
Send your child to school with their own supplies, and labels with their name on anything that needs it. Remind them that sharing isn’t caring during a pandemic. Their lunch, or their pencils and erasers, should stay their own right now. Send along extras and tell your child it’s okay not to get them back if this is hard for them.
Talk it out
There’s a lot of anxiety involved in going to school during a pandemic. New routines and safety measures can be intimidating, and school alone can be stressful enough. Everyone deals with stress and anxiety in different ways. You know better than anyone else how to reassure and calm your child, but keep an extra close eye out for signs of struggle. Lowered academic performance can be a sign of anxiety, as can poor sleep, changes in eating habits, avoiding friends and changes in mood. Stomach aches, nausea and headaches can all also signify that your child is feeling stressed. It’s a fine line to have to stay on alert and careful about your health while also managing the strain of doing so and not letting it overwhelm you, but we all understand how that feels right now. Staying connected with friends and family, both online and in-person, will be a great help for not just your child but for all of us. Try getting outside and getting active, or setting aside time every day to relax and have fun. And remember, things might be stressful now, but nothing lasts forever.