School districts across the country are figuring out how to navigate educating students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some started with remote learning while others brought students back on a full or part-time basis.
As parents prepare their children for fall, Dr. Victoria Uribe, who chairs the pediatric department at Elmhurst Clinic, offers a few tips on preparing kids for life during a pandemic.
Have the talk
Talk to children about the coming school year and what it may look like for them. Ask questions about how they’re feeling, their expectations, what they may need to succeed this school year and ways they can stay connected with their friends.
Uribe suggested using mealtimes to continue those discussions throughout the school year.
Educate on use of masks
A child’s face mask should be comfortable enough to wear for the length of time they will be in school.
For younger children, consider a mask that ties or connects behind the head rather than one that loops over the ears, Uribe suggested.
Kids should have at least two masks so they always have a clean mask to wear.
Establish a sleep routine
The pandemic has wreaked havoc on sleep schedules.
To get kids back on a regular sleep schedule, try slowly re-adjusting by putting children to bed earlier each night and waking them up earlier each day.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends children get 8 to 13 hours of sleep, depending on their age.
Get a check-up
Even if children are starting the school year with remote learning, be sure they are up to date on their school physicals before school starts,
Don’t put off school physicals until later in the year when doctors’ offices may be dealing with flu or COVID-19 outbreaks.
Don’t forget the flu shot
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends flu shots for children ages 6 months and older.
Uribe noted that the flu shot will be of particular importance this year with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Flu shots typically become available mid- to late-September.
Find a designated space for schoolwork
If children are learning remotely, be sure they have a quiet, comfortable space to do their schoolwork at home.
If possible, set up a desk with their supplies so they have a regular spot to do their work. Let them pick out a few desk supplies to help personalize their space.
Get into a routine
Remote-learning kids should still get dressed and have breakfast before starting their school day at home. Work in some outdoor break time so they don’t spend the entire day indoors.
When possible, find a way for kids to safely socialize with their friends – whether it’s a study group outside or picnic lunch in the backyard.
College students should be stocked with essential supplies – masks, over-the-counter pain and cold medications and a thermometer.
Talk to them about ways to stay healthy and safe during the pandemic and stay in regular contact throughout the year.
For updates on COVID-19, visit EEHealth.org/coronavirus.