Back to school: How to protect students from COVID-19

Updated on October 13, 2020

Many parents are anxious because their kids are going back to school this fall.  Who can blame them when the pandemic is still happening all over the world? However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other health institutions say that it’s best for the child’s social, physical, emotional, and mental health when they get back to school. Not to mention that kids learn better in a school environment.

School officials, teachers, and health experts all over the country are working hard to decide whether to reopen schools for in-person learning.  They are also thinking of ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools by staggering schedules, limiting class sizes, or offering online remote classes.  Furthermore, some schools may provide a hybrid of in-person and online learning programs.  The schools that offer in-person classes may require students and teachers to wear masks, observe social distancing, and other necessary safety precautions.

Are Kids Likely to Get Infected with COVID-19 in School?

The good news is that children are less likely to catch and spread COVID than adults. Health professionals say that attending schools with health protocols in place helps protect kids and lower their chances of contracting the virus. These include:

  • Keeping students spaced apart
  • Wearing masks or cloth face coverings
  • Washing hands and cleaning surfaces regularly
  • Grouping the same teachers and students together throughout the school day
  • Staggered class schedules

What if My Kid or Family Member belongs to a High-Risk Group?

Some people are more likely to get sick from COVID.  This includes individuals with health problems like diabetes, asthma, a heart condition, or a weak immune system. Adults aged 65 and above are also considered high-risk.  Furthermore, infants younger than 1-year-old might get sicker from the virus than older kids.  If your kid has a health problem or lives with an individual in a high-risk group, then consider the risks of your kid bringing viruses home from the school.  You can also opt for distance and online learning programs.  It is best to ask your doctor for professional advice.

Is My Child’s School Following COVID-19 Safety Protocols?

Determine what safety protocols your kid’s school is taking. Ask the school about:

Hand washing – Students and teachers should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water frequently.  Hand sanitizers should also be within reach and easily available.

Physical distancing – Adults and kids should be 6 feet apart whenever possible.  In the classroom, spacing desks at least 3 feet apart and requiring students to wear masks will help prevent the spread of COVID.

Health monitoring and screenings – Some schools may check students for symptoms of COVID daily. This may include temperature checks and symptom surveys in school or at home. Likewise, if someone gets sick, there should be a process for reporting exposures, isolation, and returning to school. 

It would be beneficial for your school to use a comprehensive monitoring system that offers students and teachers a COVID health check, effective symptom tracking, and COVID risk assessment. Such a system will help prevent the spread of infections and ensure compliance among students, educators, and staff while protecting everyone’s privacy.

Group or class size – Some schools may stagger schedules, place students in cohorts, limit class sizes, or offer a hybrid of in-person and online learning.  A cohort is a group of teachers and students who stay together in the duration of a school day.  Ask your school about their specific plan of action.

Cleaning and disinfecting – Schools should follow the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for cleaning and disinfecting commonly used areas.  Surfaces like doorknobs, bathroom handles and knobs, light switches, and keyboards should be cleaned frequently and regularly.

More ways to lower risk

Schools across the US are coming up with innovative ways to reduce contamination and the spread of COVID.  They might:

  • Have teachers change rooms rather than students.
  • Conduct classes and activities outdoors as much as possible.
  • Use floor markings to show kids where to stand and walk.
  • Have meals inside the classroom instead of the cafeteria.
  • Have children ride the school bus in assigned seats that are distanced apart.

Education plays a vital role in our children’s development.  They must be provided with the necessary tools for them to learn and grow in the best way possible.  However, it’s also equally important that their health and well-being are protected and nurtured.  Parents and schools should work together to prevent kids from getting sick both in school and at home. 

State-of-the-art tools and platforms like FeverIQ will go a long way in preventing and managing COVID transmission among students. It’s an investment that will pay off in the long run. After all, you can’t put a price on safety and peace of mind. 

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