Our local schools have been hard at work planning for safe re-openings in the coming weeks. The decision on when to open and when or if to send your child to school has become very difficult this year, and in many cases is a personal one that each family must make on an individual basis. So, if you have decided to send your child back for in-person learning, I want to provided some pointers on how to stay as safe as possible.
First, if your child is old enough and able, work with them on wearing a mask. This is the most important thing we can all do to break the transmission of this virus. School reopening plans are strongly encouraging masks. Please don’t send your child to school without one. If you have a younger child (or even a teenager) I know it’s harder to get them to wear a mask but over the course of the next week, help them practice putting on and taking off their mask safely and help them get used to wearing it. Their mask should fit securely under their chin and against the sides of their face but still be breathable. If it isn’t, there’s still time to find a different one that fits better and is more comfortable. When taking it off, have them only handle it by the ear loops or ties and then wash their hands or use hand sanitizer right after. Then, at the end of each day wash it in the washing machine and dry. The less your child touches the cloth part of the mask after putting it on the first time the better. Masks are most important to wear when in the hallways or around other children, less so but still worthwhile if they are sitting at a desk 6 feet away from others. I know this is a difficult thing to ask an elementary school student to do. All the more reason to work on it now.
Next, work with your child on cleaning their hands often: with bathroom breaks, before and after they eat, and when they touch their mask and face. If there is hand sanitizer in the classroom, have them ask their teacher to clean their hands when they come into the classroom and when they leave. It’s so easy to forget not to touch your face or other shared surfaces that last year we wouldn’t have given a second thought to. The more we work with our children on cleaning hands now, the less likely they’ll be spreading any kind of germ to themselves or others.