First-day jitters are nothing new. As the end of summer approaches each year, kids start worrying about making friends, meeting new teachers, and getting through the homework assignments that are sure to come. Meanwhile, parents shop for school supplies and prepare for driving carpools, chaperoning field trips, and more.
But for many families, this year is especially unnerving. 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.
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.
Get Them Vaccinated
Even if your child isn’t required to get vaccinated against COVID before attending school in person, it’s still a good idea for them to do so, so long as they’re eligible. As of August 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that everyone 12 and older should get vaccinated.
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. In response to the new Delta variant, the CDC recently updated its recommendations to say that all students (age 2 and older), teachers, staff members, and visitors should wear a mask in schools, even if they’re fully vaccinated.
Teach Them How to Socially Distance
The CDC has recommended that students remain at least 3 feet from each other while in the classroom. Older kids will probably find it easier to follow this rule, but you may need to spend some time showing younger kiddos how far 3 feet really is. You might also need to go over proper handwashing techniques and remind them to avoid touching potentially contaminated surfaces.
Keep Them Home When They’re 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.
COVID Testing, Vaccinations & More
If your child needs to be tested for or vaccinated against COVID-19, you can turn to PhysicianOne Urgent Care. We proudly offer rapid (antigen) and PCR testing at all of our immediate care centers, as well as vaccinations at certain locations (click here for more information about our COVID-19 services). We also perform school and sports physicals and administer a wide array of other vaccines, making us your one-stop shop for all of your child’s back-to-school needs.