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Keeping Your Kids Safe from COVID-19 During the School Year

Fall is upon us and many private schools are back in session with in-person learning. More daycare centers are re-opening, too. 

As we make slow progress toward something resembling normalcy, remember that COVID-19 is still very much a part of our daily reality here in Southern Maryland, so it’s important to keep health and safety top of mind.

For parents, sending your children back to school can be stressful. And for children, the different school environment is an adjustment. There are new procedures and precautions to understand, so parents should read or listen closely to any communication that the schools or daycare centers send out. And don’t hesitate to ask questions to make sure you understand the environment and the expectations.

Communicate clearly with your child’s school or daycare so that you and your children are aware of all the safety precautions that are in place. Find out exactly what has changed, and let your child know how this year’s in-school or daycare experience is different than it was before.

You’ll want to remind your children frequently that they should be following the safety protocols 100%.

Stress the Importance of Masks

Let them know that masks are essential and that the mask not only protects them but everyone around them, too. Be sure to find a mask that fits your child correctly. This will keep them from constantly touching the mask or adjusting it.

If your child resists wearing a face covering, try to make it fun for them. Let them pick out a fun mask with designs on it or even let them decorate the mask themselves. 

Wash and Sanitize Hands Frequently

You’ll also want to stress the importance of frequently washing their hands. Remind them to always use soap and warm water and to lather their hands and wash for at least 20 seconds. If it’s not possible to wash with soap and water, encourage them to use hand sanitizer frequently.

However, younger children should not necessarily be given their own hand sanitizer to carry. Hand sanitizer creates a poisoning risk if ingested, so make sure your child is old enough to understand the risk and knows how to properly use it.

Maintain Physical Distance

Even though it might be difficult because they haven’t seen their friends in a while, let them know that they absolutely have to keep a safe distance from other children and even their teachers.

Six feet is the recommended minimum for physical distancing, so encourage your children to respect others’ space and to protect their own space.

Watch for Symptoms of (Any) Illness

As a parent, you’ll want to be on the lookout for even the slightest signs of illness in your child. Make a habit of checking their temperature each day, and don’t send them to school with a low fever or even a cough. 

When in doubt, keep your child at home. Consult with your physician if you have any questions or if you suspect that you or your child should have a COVID test. 

It’s up to all of us to look out for each other. That’s how we’ve gotten through this so far, and that’s how we’ll get through it now.

Best of luck for a safe and fun fall.

Additional Resources

PDF: Help Protect Yourself and Others: Cough and Sneeze Etiquette
PDF: Help Protect Yourself and Others: Cough and Sneeze Etiquette (en español)
PDF: Hand Sanitizers: Keep Children Safe from Poisoning Risk
PDF: Cloth Face Coverings for Children During COVID-19

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