The transition back to school after summer fun can be hard on the whole family, especially after a school year marred by COVID-19. Many schools across the nation have returned to “business as usual” or close to it, and the transition may be a difficult one for everyone to swallow. With the Delta variant surging and some states fighting mask mandates, back-to-school 2021 feels more intimidating than ever before.
How do we keep our kids safe and healthy as they head back to the classroom?
Today, we are breaking down 3 easy steps to make the transition back-to-school as easy as possible – for YOU and the kiddos.
Step By Step Guide – Back-to-School 2021
With more programs and schools opening up for in-person learning this fall, more children will be away from home and back in the classroom.
As we all continue to search for a new normal, there are things we can do to keep our children healthy throughout the school year. Keep these tips in mind, and the transition for back-to-school 2021 should be smooth!
1. Continue to Follow the Latest COVID-19 Safety Guidelines
Staying educated is the most important way to keep your family healthy this school year. If the pandemic has shown us anything, it is that life with COVID-19 is unpredictable. Recommendations continue to change as cases surge in certain regions and different populations become more vulnerable. Staying up-to-date with the latest information is the best way to fight fear and learn what we can do to keep our children healthy this new school year.
The guidelines are there for a reason. Since children under the age of 12 are not yet able to be vaccinated against COVID-19, there are new guidelines coming out all the time to help adjust to new changes and keep your family safe.
With the threat of the Delta variant, it’s even more important to pay close attention to the guidelines set by the CDC. And keep in mind that these guidelines can change at any time!
Here’s a checklist of topics you should educate yourself and your family on as we head back to school in 2021:
✅ Awareness and Understanding of School Safety Precautions
Schools will take different safety measures depending upon their school policies, case numbers, and mandates. Make sure you know what safety measures are being implemented in your school and options that are available to you.
✅ Impact of Variants on In-Person Learning
As we tackle different COVID-19 variants, policies might change as far as in-school learning goes. Stay up-to-date with your options and the measures being taken to keep the children safe for in-person learning.
✅ Guidance for Vaccinated Children/Families
If your child is vaccinated, understand your school’s policies for not only the classroom but also extracurricular sports and clubs.
✅ Guidance for Unvaccinated Children/Families
If you are debating whether the COVID-19 vaccine is right for your child, I urge you to educate yourself on the vaccine utilizing the right resources. There is a lot of misinformation. When doing your research, use credible sources. The best place to start is with your child’s pediatrician.
✅ Testing for COVID-19
It is important for the safety of your school’s community to take every precaution if your child starts to have symptoms. Educate yourself on your school’s testing policies and returning back to school after a positive test result OR after any other illness, as many of those guidelines have changed as well.
2. Be Prepared for a Surge of Germs and Sick Kiddos
With the start of every school year, we see a surge of cases of viral illness. As children go back into the classroom, they shares stories of summer fun and germs! We anticipate a significant increase in children heading to the pediatrician’s office with coughs and colds this school year. It is now more important than ever to take every precaution we have to try to keep our kids as healthy as possible.
Follow these helpful tips when sickness does strike:
✅ Wash Hands and Sneeze in Elbows
Yes, your children should definitely practice good hand washing at home and outside the house. Research has shown the most effective way to prevent the spread of illness is to wash hands. Good hand washing hygiene for kids starts at home, but they need to know what to do at school, too!
Also, teaching them to cough and sneeze into their elbows is important. Those tiny germs get a huge boost out into the air with any cough or sneeze – help keep others healthy by practicing this tip.
✅ Have OTC Medicines Ready
Supplements and vitamins can give your children that extra immune boost to help prevent illness. But always check with your pediatrician before giving any OTC medications, supplements, or vitamins.
Also, make sure to have over-the-counter (OTC) fever reducers and cough or cold medicines on hand BEFORE sickness strikes. You can even add these items to your supplies list for school so you don’t forget them!
Stocking your medicine cabinet ahead of time will save you some time and headaches later. Always read the labels on your OTC medications before use, and check with your pediatrician for dosing recommendations.
✅ Ensure Masks Fit Properly
If your children are wearing masks in school, make sure they fit correctly. A loose fitting mask is annoying, first of all, but it also isn’t doing it’s job properly.
To really prevent the spread of germs, make sure your child’s mask is comfy but also that it covers all the necessary parts!
✅ Disinfect Everything
From backpacks to shoes and everything in between, make sure you’re stopping germs at the door.
We have a backpack station in the mud room to prevent spreading germs all over the house. We spray down the backpacks and shoes here to avoid tracking those outside encounters through our home.
Don’t forget to follow this tip yourself! Disinfect your own purse and keys, and leave your shoes at the door, too!
✅ Keep Up With Well Checks
During the peak of the pandemic, many offices were postponing well checks in order to help keep healthy kids from getting sick in the pediatrician’s office.
But with telehealth appointments and other creative options for keeping sick kids separated from the well visits, it’s time to get back on track, especially when routine vaccines are involved.
3. Give Yourself Some Grace and Time to Adjust
Transitions are hard on everyone, but they can be especially hard on families and children. As parents, the word “routine” is drilled into us at every turn. And with things so up in the air over this last year and a half, routines have gone out the window.
But it’s important to give your children this security, even if it’s just in one area of their lives. Provide some moments of daily, predictable routines to help them feel secure when other aspects of life are not so predictable.
And talk with your kids about these transitions. Kids really do grasp more than you think sometimes. Just like with adults, it often helps kids accept changes when they know the “why” behind the transitions.
Check out these tips for tackling the anxiety and stress your child might have about heading back to school this school year:
✅ Remember Children Absorb Our Energy
It is important to stay calm and positive when talking about heading back to school.
✅ Turn Off the News
The news can be filled with scary words and imagery, especially for younger children. Try to wait until your child is out of the house before watching the news.
✅ Not All Anxiety Looks the Same
In children, anxiety can present as headaches, stomach aches, crankiness, and sadness. If your child is displaying any of these symptoms, check on their mental health and take steps to alleviate their worries.
✅ Stay Active
Don’t underestimate the power of being outside. Playing outside, fishing, biking, or just going for a walk are good ways to stay healthy and alleviate anxiety.
✅ Encourage Activities that Decrease Anxiety
Whether your child is an artist, musician, or athlete, get them involved in the activities that build their confidence and keep them happy. Make a point this year to explore different activities and nurture their passions.
✅ Check in on Your Child’s Mental Health Regularly
Whether at the dinner table or in the car ride to and from school, find time to check in with your child and ask how they are doing.
✅ Get Professional Help
If you or child are having extreme feelings of anxiety or sadness, seek professional help.
Final Thoughts – Back-to-School 2021
For many parents, the beginning of this school year is full of uncertainty and fear. We all want so badly for our children to feel a sense of normalcy and security.
We will get there, but we need to be safe and smart about how we handle back-to-school 2021.
I’m proud to take part as a blogging ambassador with the CHPA (Consumer Healthcare Products Association) Educational Foundation and KnowYourOTCs.org. This post is sponsored! While I have received compensation from the CHPA Educational Foundation, all opinions are my own.