Unfortunately, COVID-19 has followed us into our 2020/21 school year, but luckily there are steps we can follow each day to ensure the safety of our staff and children.
First things first, masks. The proper way to wear your mask is to cover your mouth and nose. To properly take off your mask, pull it off from the straps that go around your ear to prevent getting the cloth part of your mask dirty. Remember to encourage your kids that wearing a mask is the most important to keep your immune system safe. Pack extra face masks in your children’s backpack so they can switch them out throughout the day.
Practice proper hygiene at home and make sure they carry it throughout their day at school. Washing your hands periodically is a good way to prevent spreading bacteria through your hands. Encourage children to wash their hands after using the bathroom, after playing outside, before eating at meal time, and before and after interacting with friends and family. When getting home from school, make sure to wash your hands, shower, and change your clothes. Showering everyday can prevent the spread of COVID-19. You could even pack hand sanitizer in your children’s backpack and encourage them to use it when they can’t wash their hands.
Make sure your children are still reading every day. Whether they are attending school or distance learning, reading should be an essential part of their daily routine.
Have conversations with your children about socializing with their friends while at school. Socialization is so vital! Have those important conversations about remembering to keep your mask on when in groups of friends and not sharing food and drinks with friends.
Routines are so important. One of the most important routines for children is a bedtime routine. Proper sleep will help keep their immune system strong and help them focus at school. Avoid electronics an hour before bedtime and introduce reading as a way to wind down.
Have conversations with your children. It may be confusing, or hard, or even just plain annoying when they have friends, or they themselves, have to be quarantined from school. Have conversations with them to keep that dialog open about how things going on at school are affecting them.
Rememberwe are all in this together. Have age appropriate, open conversations about what is going on with your children. Help them understand that anyone can get the virus. This is important to help reduce any stereotypes and ensure compassion when children in their class or school are quarantined.
Some families have chosen to continue distance learning online this year. Talk with your children and help them understand that some of their friends may not be back in their classroom due to health conditions within their families and that everyone has to make the best choice for their families. Try to set up video calls with their friends that they are missing in their classroom, if possible. You could always ask the teacher to pass along a message to their friend’s parents to contact you to do this.
Be aware of subtle changes in your child’s behavior. This school year, well, this whole year really, has been unlike any other for any of us, adults included. Watch for changes in their moods or attitudes and discuss these observations with them.
Be available. Children may react to the new way of school this year, and that is okay. Be patient with them as they work to adapt. Be available and provide a safe place for children to open up about how they are feeling during this time. Make sure to allow specific time with your children for discussions. An easy time is during their bedtime routine. Take the time to ask about their day as you tuck them in, you may be surprised what they will tell you if they feel like you want to listen to them. This extra time provides a safe environment for them to express their feelings.
As much as this year is so full of uncertainty, you can create the consistency, routine, and support that your children need. If you have questions about your child’s mental or physical health, please consult their pediatrician.