Back-to-school season is in full swing. Transitions are always hard, but there are even more things on our minds this year. Whether last year was all remote, all in-person, or somewhere in between, it’s important to take time for everyone in the family to get a refresher on safety. Here are things to consider as you get ready for the new school year.
Review/Make an Emergency Readiness Plan
Do you have an emergency plan for your family? Where do you meet if there’s an emergency? How will you get in contact if cell towers aren’t working? How is that different if something happens while the kids are at school vs. with the sitter after school? Here are some resources to help build a plan specific to your needs. Once you have it, review it together as a family.
Know Phone Numbers
Do your school-aged kids know your phone number by heart? They should. By about 6 years old, most kids are able to remember 7 consecutive numbers. Here are some tips to help them memorize your phone number so they know how to reach you when they need to.
Set a Clear Routine
When kids have a clear routine, it’s easier for them to notice when there’s something wrong. During the first couple of weeks of school, talk through all of the expectations of the day. A pattern will start to form and it will be easier for them to follow, not to mention spot potentially dangerous situations.
Since children under 12 are not yet eligible for the vaccine, layered prevention strategies are the recommended approach to preventing the spread of COVID-19.
Keep the Everyday Precautions Top-of-Mind
The CDC recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask-wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk.
Wear A Mask
The CDC says that masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated. Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
Wearing cloth face masks should be a priority especially when it’s hard to maintain social distance, such as on the bus, at carpool drop-off or pickup, and when entering the building.
Wash Your Hands
As always, practicing good hygiene by regularly washing your hands—especially before eating, can help to prevent all types of illness.
Know What To Expect From the School
Schools should be proactively reaching out to you about these safety measures, but make sure you have the following questions answered:
- Have teachers and staff been vaccinated?
- What changes have been made to classrooms, hallways, cafeterias, and buses to ensure social distancing?
- Will hand-washing opportunities be frequent and hand sanitizer readily available?
- Have cleaning services been increased and how often will high-touch surfaces be disinfected?
- Are students and staff who feel sick required to stay at home?
- What is the plan if someone at the school tests positive for COVID-19?
- What are you doing about sports and other activities?
Don’t Neglect Emotional Health
Adults and kids alike have had to navigate through difficult and scary topics in the past year. Going back to school could potentially stir up some worries and fears your children may have. Be sure to address back-to-school anxiety together as a family to make sure everyone feels heard and cared for.
Have Backup Plans
No, that’s not a typo—plans, as in multiple. There are a lot of factors that could derail your family’s plans this year. They could be:
- Your child isn’t feeling well and shouldn’t be in school—whether it could be COVID-19 or a cold/flu.
- A COIVD-19 case popped up at your child’s school and everyone needs to switch to remote learning for a couple of weeks to prevent spreading.
- COVID-19 cases increase enough in your area that the school sends everyone back to remote learning for an undetermined amount of time.
Safety is never a fun topic to think about, but an important one nevertheless. As you’re preparing for the new school year, don’t forget that it always helps to have a team of child care providers who can help to fill in the gaps. Start looking for the nanny or babysitter who can make your family’s schedules work on Sittercity.