While the COVID-19 pandemic is still far from over, some schools are reopening their doors for in-person learning. Both kids and parents are eager to return to the normal set-up after a year of virtual school — although there are a lot of precautions, risks, and worries that may come with it.
To ensure safety as much as possible as children return to the classroom, both schools and parents must arm their children with more than their school supplies this school year. Here are some of the most important precautions and tips on how to keep your child safe upon their return to the classroom.
- Ease back into the old routine
Or create a new one altogether. After more than a year of online school, you and your child will already have grown accustomed to the pandemic routine. Children thrive off of routines, and suddenly shifting to the old routine, even if it is what they were used to before the pandemic, can cause unneeded anxieties about returning to school.
Whether your child is in primary school or already in high school, it pays to help them adjust to the normal routine before in-person classes start. To do this, gradually ease them into their normal pre-pandemic routine, including getting up for school earlier, going through their morning rituals on time, and even having them dress up for school as normal.
- Educate your child thoroughly
Most children have a basic understanding of the coronavirus by now. They should know the importance of wearing a mask, washing their hands, and staying a good distance away from other people, as well as the reason why they have to adhere to these rules. But even if your child already knows these things, it won’t hurt to remind them.
The first thing that you should tell them is that the pandemic is not over, and the threat of catching the virus is still a very real possibility. Stress the importance of sticking to the rules that they’ve followed so well now — not only for their own safety but for the safety of others as well. Most children are naturally empathetic, so they understand and accept that they have to follow these rules for everybody’s sake as much as their own.
Moreover, in-person classes in the middle of a pandemic offer unique situations. Go through scenarios with them to instill what they have to do when faced with these certain situations. For instance, if they encounter a person or a group of other kids not wearing masks, tell them to stay away. If they see a classmate touching their face and then touching an object or surface, tell them to avoid touching the same place or sanitizing their hands if they touch it.
- Form hygiene habits at home
Good hygiene starts at home, and teaching your child good hygiene habits is now more important than ever. Teach your child to wash their hands frequently, including before and after meals, before leaving home and after returning, after they use the bathroom, and after blowing their nose, coughing into their hands, or touching their face. Moreover, teach them how to wash their hands in public bathrooms — how not to touch the handles with their hands and using the right amount of soap.
- Get them used to wearing masks
Masks can be quite uncomfortable for children, so getting them used to mask-wearing can help reduce the chances of your child taking off their masks at school or wearing it improperly. Have them wear a mask a few days before in-person classes start. Ask them to keep the mask on during ‘school hours’ except when they have to eat or drink. Furthermore, teach them how to properly put on and take off the mask, as well as how to wear the mask properly (covers the top of the nose from the bottom of the chin and fits snugly around the face).
Keep the bands of the masks together with a clip to prevent ear pain from hours of mask-wearing. To encourage your child to keep the mask on, buy them different masks for each day and let them choose their favorite designs or characters. It’s also a good idea to give them a case for their mask so that they don’t put their mask on top of potentially dirty surfaces when they have to take them off.
As schools reopen for face-to-face classes, schools and parents must work hand-in-hand to ensure the kids are safe upon their return to real classrooms. With these tips, you can prepare your child for the ‘new normal’ at school and equip them with the knowledge to keep themselves — and others — safe.