The time has come when many of us are heading back to work and school even during this heightened state of the COVID-19 pandemic across the country. Whether you are a teacher going back to the classroom or a parent sending your children back to school, it can be a scary and uncertain time for everyone. One way to bring some ease into the uncertainty is to be prepared. The best thing you can do is make sure you have all you need to feel comfortable and safe going back to school. This includes having clear expectations for your family and your school to help prevent illness as well as investing in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supplies such as face masks, face shields, hand sanitizer, etc to stay safe.
To aid in the transition back to school, The Center for Disease Control (CDC) along with the World Health Organization (WHO) have released suggested guidelines for schools, teachers and families during the coronavirus outbreak, outlining ways to protect yourself and the children. Here are some of the ways the CDC and WHO suggest students, parents, and school staff can stay safe and informed when going back to school during the COVID-19 outbreak:
For The Parents
1. Stay up-to-date with school policies
Be aware of your school’s procedures and policies regarding positive cases and the steps they are taking to keep the students and staff safe. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the procedures you should follow if your child gets sick or has come into contact with someone who is sick.
2. Keep your child home if they or someone they have been in close contact with is sick.
Frequently take your child’s temperature. If they are experiencing a fever of 100.4 degree Fahrenheit or higher, they should stay home from school. It is also important to monitor yourself and your child for signs of illness such as a cough, headache, diarrhea, body aches, or vomiting. If you or your child are experiencing any of these symptoms, stay home and follow the appropriate protocol for informing the school.
3. Talk to your child
Educate your child on the importance of taking precautions while at school and around friends. Most importantly, let them know why the precautions are being asked of them. Keeping your children informed can help ease their anxiety and encourage their participation. Prepare them for the extra steps they may be required to take daily when at school:
- Wearing a mask
- Frequently washing hands
- Avoiding sharing objects with friends and classmates
- Properly using hand sanitizer
- Let them know that their classrooms might look a little different than them remember and inform them of the reasons behind the changes.
- Encourage them to ask questions and talk about their feelings. This is a very stressful time for children also, so it’s important to let them know that it’s okay to feel uncertain and that you are there to answer any of their questions.
4. Get your child comfortable wearing face masks or other forms of facial coverings
Help your child get comfortable with wearing masks and facial coverings. Explain to them why we wear face masks, what they do, and that they are not scary! Let them know that by wearing a mask, they are helping to keep themselves and others safe.
As a fun activity, let your child choose the face mask they would like to wear, or allow them to decorate one to help encourage them to wear it.
5. Maintaining proper hygiene practices
Teach your children how and when to wash their hands properly. Emphasize the importance of hand washing before and after eating, how to cover their coughs and sneezes, not touching their eyes, etc. Encourage them to not touch others,maintain a proper distance, and to use hand sanitizer when necessary.
For Teachers and School Staff
1. Face Masks
If you are a teacher heading back into the classroom during COVID-19, wearing a face mask will be a necessity. As we know, wearing face masks significantly helps to reduce contracting or spreading the virus. While there are many options for face masks and facial coverings, there is a newer option on the market, face shields. Face Shields go a step further than regular masks by also providing protective coverage over the entire face as well as the eyes. A face shield offers exceptional coverage, especially when combined with a face mask.
2. Hand Washing
Promote regular hand washing to make sure you and your students are keeping their hands clean. When hand washing is not an option, have hand sanitizer readily available for your students.
Make hand washing fun! Here are some simple tips to make hand washing fun for kids:
- Offer different colored or scented soaps
- Sing a song! Have a dedicated hand washing song for students to sing to while washing their hands. This makes it fun and helps them know how long to wash their hands for.
- Create a reward chart for good hand washing behavior
- Stamp their hands with washable marker or stamp to give them something to ‘wash off’
3. Social Distancing
Encouraging social distancing in the classroom and throughout the school day will play an important role in keeping students, staff, and families safe during COVID-19. This can be done by incorporating both in-school and remote learning, reducing class sizes, spreading children out within the classroom.
Some schools are implementing ‘pods’, or small groups of students who travel around the school and classroom together. This practice reduces exposure of students and staff at school throughout the day.
4. Disinfect the classroom often
Along with encouraging good hygiene and social distancing practices, keeping shared areas clean will be imperative. Disinfect desks, chairs, door handles, water stations, and bathrooms daily. This also includes removing trash from around the school daily.
5. Openly communicate with your students and their families
Keeping an open line of communication between schools and families regarding the school policies for sick students will help everyone feel safer. Help reduce the stigma of getting sick by relaxing attendance policies and providing resources regarding what parents should do if their child gets sick. Vice versa, let parent’s know what they can expect from teachers and administrators should someone in the school test positive for the virus.
Whether you are heading back into the classroom, preparing for distance-learning, or a combination of both, navigating the best ways to approach the new school year during the COVID-19 outbreak can be confusing and difficult. Having a plan in place from both the families of students, as well as school administrators and teachers will be a critical step to going back to school successfully.
Source Ortho offers a wide selection of PPE supplies for both single families as well as bulk options for schools to help keep you safe. In addition to KN95 and 3 Ply face masks, we supply face shields, sanitizer, thermometers, as well as gloves and surface cleaner.