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School Safety 2021: Best Practices for When Your Children Go Back to Class

As summer starts to wind down, kids across the nation are gearing back up for the start of the school year. But in 2021, what exactly does that look like? 

Coming off the heels of a global pandemic and months of virtual learning will be a big change of pace for everybody from teachers to parents — but most importantly for the students. While every school will be transitioning in unique ways, here are some overarching recommendations as we prepare to navigate the new normal. Some are COVID-19-specific tips and others are just good reminders at the start of any school year. 

Wearing Masks 

Since schools are typically inside and in close quarters, continuing to wear a mask may be in the best interest of your student. Some schools may have specific requirements on masking, but wearing a mask when not required can only increase protection. It would be especially beneficial for young children who are unable to receive the COVID-19 vaccination. That said, masks are still not recommended for children under 2. 

Washing Hands 

Hand washing is a common lesson for younger students, but kids of all ages might need a refresher this year. Proper washing and disinfecting can help reduce the transmission of COVID-19, but it’s critical in getting rid of all kinds of other viruses and bacteria. Make sure to remind your children of how long they should be washing, and not to skip over the fingers or backs of hands. 

Sanitizing Surfaces 

Additional cleaning measures have been implemented across the nation over the past year, and now is not the time to stop. With so many people in one place, schools are a breeding ground for all types of germs. If you want your home to stay clean and healthy, you might need to step up your sanitizing game. Whenever your kids come home, be sure to disinfect all of their school belongings for maximum protection. 

Taking the Bus

There are a shocking number of potential dangers when it comes to riding the bus to school. In fact, the 10 feet around a school bus are the most dangerous for children. Make sure your students know their bus number and how to get on and off the bus, waiting until it reaches a full stop to move. Even as a driver on the road, you can improve bus safety by paying attention to their traffic signals and stopping while they load or unload.

Walking Around 

Yes, even something as simple as walking can also be dangerous in a school environment. Some schools may implement one-way hallways to prevent overcrowding. If this happens, introduce your student to the concept ahead of time and remind them it’s always safest to try and maintain as much physical distance as possible. If your child is walking to school, make sure they’re comfortable with the route and stay on the sidewalk.  

Bringing a Buddy  

Even after a year of quarantines and reduced social interaction, the buddy system is still important. From classes to extracurriculars to excursions, your student should never be alone. There should always be another person, whether it’s a parent, teacher, or peer with them. This is not only a good safety measure to take but also can help build positive social interactions and friendships that could last years. 

For more safety protocol in regards to COVD-19, visit the Mayo Clinic’s website. For more general school safety tips, check out recommendations from the State of Maryland.

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