As families, caregivers and students prepare for back-to-school, we are fielding questions and concerns about this annual rite of passage, now impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To help address these issues and answer your questions, we held a live Q&A on Facebook with experts from UVM Health Network – Central Vermont Medical Center. View the video for the complete Q+A with Pediatrics Medical Director Anna Hankins, MD, and Infectious Disease Specialist Jessie Leyse, MD, MPH, or read through the highlights below.
When preparing for back-to-school, here is our advice that every student, family and caregiver can follow to ease this transition and prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Make sure your child has a mask that fits over the nose and is snug over the face, either by ear loops or by ties.
- Some kids may enjoy making and customizing their own masks so they fit just right.
- Before school starts, encourage your child to practice wearing a mask at home.
- View our Kids & Masks video series where we address masking challenges, cleaning masks, and how to wear them the right way.
- Encourage your child to wash their hands often with hot, soapy water.
- Remind your child to avoid touching their nose, mouth, and eyes.
- Stay six feet apart from other people as much as possible.
- If children can stay outside with others, that’s ideal.
- Since COVID-19 can often present as a common cold or flu, it’s important to keep children home from school even if their symptoms are mild.
- If your child is sick, call your pediatrician for guidance and they will help you determine if a COVID test is necessary.
Grandparents as Caregivers
- Children may continue to have a close relationship with their grandparents, but handwashing, masking and physical distancing will be important when visiting grandparents.
- Encourage children to share “air hugs” and “air high fives” with older family members.
- Outdoor, distanced extracurricular activities and sports are best right now. Musical theater and chorus? Not a good choice right now because children are typically indoors, singing loudly and within close proximity to others.
The Importance of Good Routines
- Whether learning in-person or remotely, all children will benefit from having a regular sleep and activity schedule.
- Strive to provide your children with a clearly defined bedtime that doesn’t vary too much between week nights and weekend nights.
- Shifting bedtime earlier by one hour may take a week or so. For example, if bedtime drifted to 10 pm during the summer, first shift it to 9 pm for a week, then shift it to 8 pm.
- To ensure kids are tired at bedtime, it may help to wake them up in the morning rather than letting them sleep in.
- Closely supervise and set specific limits on screen time and device usage.
Screentime and Remote Learning
- Try to limit screen use to a computer because children need them for remote learning, but they don’t need a cell phone. Keep the cell phone in a separate area for use at designated times.
- Parental supervision is important. Check-in on your child during their remote learning to make sure they’re on track and feeling supported.