Safely Returning to Schools: Take These 4 Steps
As more people are able to get COVID-19 vaccines, there’s hope for a return to normalcy, and in-person instruction for students are atop of priorities for millions of students and their families.
It has been proven that learning in person is best for students, particularly students from disadvantaged backgrounds and communities of color. The interaction with material for reading and math (particularly in fundamental learning years), as well as the social/emotional support provided by counselors, teachers and their peers, is crucial for success.
In order to best prepare for return, it is critical that caregivers take these four steps into consideration and have consistent communication with school administrators on safety protocols:
Review the school’s return model thoroughly and ask for support if there is a lack of understanding. All schools provide parents and students with return models that include protocols, screening information, the city’s COVID-19 benchmarks and impact to return, responses to positive cases, schedules, and classroom routines. Please review protocols with your child prior to return and encourage them to ask questions for clarity.
Immunizations and health screenings. It is important for student to be up-to-date on their immunizations during the pandemic. Please review requirements for your child’s age and grade prior to return and ensure availability with your healthcare provider. All schools require COVID-19 screenings to be completed prior to entering the school building (while at home). For practice, start to implement this in your morning routine prior to return.
Nutrition is fundamental. It is particularly important for young children to have a nutritious diet to protect their immunity. Please review your child’s lunch provisions within the return plan and provide healthy lunch options, nutritional snacks, and water for them as a supplement.
Plentiful supplies. Make sure that your child has their own disinfectant wipes and masks. Be sure to role model with your child how to properly clean their surfaces and ensure their mask covers both their nose and mouth area. It is important to teach them the importance of this as it relates to COVID-19. Incentivize your child with a point system and have your child’s teacher report if there are issues and areas of improvement.
Remember, school during the COVID-19 pandemic may not feel like normal for a while yet. But whatever form school takes, it requires everyone’s support to make sure that it is healthy, safe, and equitable for students, teachers, staff, and families.