What to Expect With COVID-19 & Back-to-School Protocols
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States in early 2020, it turned life upside down for more than 50 million school-age children across the country. In fact, according to Education Week, 48 states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (a federally operated school system) all either ordered or recommended that school buildings be shut down for the rest of the school year.
Now that many kids are getting ready to attend school in person for the first time in almost a year and a half, there’s a whole new set of back-to-school protocols that they and their parents will need to follow. We’ve compiled some tips on what to expect as your child starts school again and what you can do to ensure that they remain safe throughout the year.
Should Your Child Get a COVID Test Before Going Back to School?
According to current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), your child should get tested if he or she:
- Is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19
- Has been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID, even if your child is fully vaccinated (unless your child tested positive within the past three months, recovered, and hasn’t developed any new symptoms)
- Isn’t vaccinated and has participated in a high-risk activity, such as traveling or attending a large gathering
- Has been asked to get tested by a healthcare provider or health department
Keep Your Children Safe with These Simple Guidelines
- Follow Your School’s Rules - Chances are good that your child’s school will be sending home information about steps that you’ll need to take before the first day, as well as guidelines for what students can and cannot do while on school grounds. You’ll want to pay attention to those specific instructions, and if you have any questions, contact the school’s administration.
- Keep Them Home When They are Sick - It’s always been a good idea for kids to stay at home when they’re feeling under the weather, but especially so during the COVID era. Some parents might have been willing to send their children to school in the past if they were only exhibiting symptoms of a common cold, but because COVID symptoms can often mirror those of a cold or the flu, you’ll want to be particularly cautious during this time.
- Get a Rapid PCR Test - If your child is exhibiting symptoms of common illnesses, such as a cold, flu, COVID-19, or RSV, get them tested with a Rapid PCR test so you know whether or not it is COVID-19. This will give you the peace-of-mind you need to figure out next steps for helping your child feel better.
- Have Them Wear a Mask - If your child has been vaccinated, they might assume that they can head to school without a mask in tow. That’s actually not the case. According to the CDC’s recently updated recommendations, when the COVID-19 Community Level is high, all students (age 2 and older), teachers, staff members, and visitors should wear a mask in schools, even if they’re fully vaccinated.
Should Your Child Get Vaccinated for COVID-19?
As of August 2021, the CDC is recommending that everyone 12 and older receive a COVID-19 vaccination. So, if your child falls into that age range, you should have them vaccinated, both for their own protection and the protection of those around them.
If you’re a parent to younger kiddos, you no longer have to wait for them to get vaccinated. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months to 5 years, and Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine for kids ages 6 months to 6 years.
COVID Testing & Vaccinations at PhysicianOne Urgent Care
If your child needs to be tested for COVID-19, you can turn to PhysicianOne Urgent Care. We proudly offer rapid (antigen) and PCR testing at all of our immediate care centers. We also perform school and sports physicals and administer a wide array of vaccines, making us your one-stop shop for all of your child’s back-to-school needs. Book a center visit or schedule a virtual visit today.