Disclosure :: this post is sponsored by Children’s Hospital New Orleans.
We’re answering your biggest question: How do I prepare my child to go back to school during a pandemic?
Fall is nearly upon us, which means it’s time for school, but we’re all about to have a first day like no other. Almost every aspect of school will look and feel different for parents, kids, and educators. From learning in the classroom and playing at recess to eating lunch and even riding the bus, there will be new, unfamiliar processes in place to keep everyone safe. As this pandemic continues to evolve, we have a chance to be a small part of mentally preparing our kids on how to embark upon a new school year with confidence. Here’s how:
Paint a picture
It’s going to be a little strange for our children to attend school wearing a mask while their peers and teachers do the same. We all know how important it is to smile and greet one another with a hug or a high five, but it’s important to explain to your kids that we have to push the pause button on our usual greeting. Help them to understand what all will be different when they return to school, and why it’s important that we do things in this new way to keep everyone safe and healthy. From social distancing on the school bus or in the classroom, help them to cope with the change by making a fun game out of their new surroundings. What colors do they see? How far can they stretch their arms? How many feet can they guess are between them and their teacher or them and their best friend?
Tell your child how proud you are that they are following the rules to help keep their friends and teachers safe. Remind them that it’s okay to feel a little strange at this new school setup, but assure them that they will thrive over time and adjust well to these new rules.
Kids can play a big role in safety, too!
As you gear up for the new school year, explain to your kids how they can contribute to helping create a healthy school environment and help stop the spread of infection. Keep reminding them that washing their hands often is important and so is not touching their faces. Just like you have to remind them to brush their teeth or do their homework, these reminders are important to express daily to keep it fresh on their minds.
Explain how to keep a social distance and personal space in a school setting. After being quarantined at home for many months, kids may not realize how exactly social distancing works back in a school and classroom setting. Use pool noodles or hula hoops to help visually explain social distance at home. Get kids excited about wearing a masks by allowing them to pick out their own design, and teaching them how to properly wear a mask. Explain to them how wearing a mask truly helps stop the spread and protects not only them but others around them like their friends and their friends’ family members, too.
Feeling good, like they should
It’s extremely important to make sure your child is up to date on their well-visits before school starts. Their pediatrician is there, and ready to make sure your child is healthy and up to date on their shots and immunizations before heading back into the classroom. While we are focused on COVID-19, it is important to stay on schedule to protect against other diseases like measles, mumps, and the whooping cough. Children’s Hospital New Orleans and all our clinics are continuing to take precautions to ensure every family feels safe coming in to see their doctor.
When you arrive, you will have your temperature checked, you’ll be given a mask, and asked to use hand sanitizer before checking into your appointment. We’ve also created socially distanced seating ensure a safe environment for you and your family.
As a trusted partner to our community, to the Louisiana Department of Education, and to you, Children’s Hospital is working with schools to ensure a safe transition back to school. Remember to schedule your child’s well-visit before school starts. To find a Children’s Pediatrics office near you, check out www.chnola.org/pediatrics.
Check out Children’s Hospital’s COVID-19 Return to School Support and COVID-19 Information for Families.
About Cary Culbertson, MD
Dr. Culbertson earned her medical degree from Texas Tech School of Medicine in Lubbock, Texas and completed residency at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. Dr. Cary Culbertson is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. With over 15 years of experience, Dr. Culbertson chose pediatrics because she finds it rewarding to watch young patients grow while getting to know their families over the years.