General Health

Back to school in the COVID age

Brandace Hider, MD
Back to school in the COVID age

In just a few weeks, we’ll send kids back to school, only this first day won’t look like any other first day that we’ve experienced. For one, school districts and parents will have to decide between distance learning, traditional schooling, and various hybrid models. For those kids returning to the classroom, learning, playing at recess, eating lunch, and even riding the bus will look and feel different. Although we don’t know exactly what to expect with the continuously evolving COVID-19 pandemic, we can all do our part in preparing children mentally and physically to start this unprecedented school year. Here are a few ways you and your kids can take on this school year with confidence.

Set the scene

Our children have never had to attend schools wearing masks, and this isn’t the only way the 2020-2021 school year will be different for kids and their teachers. Help kids to understand what will be different when they return to school, and why it’s important that we do things in this new way to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Set aside time to speak to your children about how they may not be able to sit right next to their friends on the bus, how they won’t be able to hold hands and play Red Rover at recess, and how they will likely be eating lunch in their classrooms instead of the crowded cafeteria.

Remember, kids have not been in school since mid-March, so they’ve had an extra long break, and while most have become accustomed to social distancing at home, they have not had to do this in the school setting. Adjusting to the school environment in this new normal will take some time and it’s normal for your children to feel anxious or unsure.

What Kids Can Do

Before the start of school, take time to help your kids understand what they can do to contribute to a safe school environment and how they can help prevent the spread of infection. Remind them to wash their hands often, and help them understand why this is important, in addition to avoiding touching their face.

Help kids build self-awareness by defining what personal space is, how to practice social distance in the school setting. Use pool noodles or hula hoops at home to help visually explain social distance. While wearing a mask can be challenging, you can help make it fun for kids by allowing them kids to pick out their own design. However, be sure to check with your school ahead of time for any restrictions on color, patterns, and materials of masks and facial coverings. Teach your kids how to properly wear a mask. Help them understand that wearing a mask properly e helps to not only protect them, but also helps to protect others.

Make sure they’re well

Now more than ever, it’s important to visit your pediatrician and have your child’s well-visit before school starts. Children’s Hospital and all of our clinics are continuing to take precautions to ensure every family feels safe coming in to see their doctor.

When you arrive at any of our facilities, you will be temperature checked, given a mask if you do not have one of your own, and you will be asked to use hand sanitizer. We ensure social distancing in our waiting rooms with signage and widely spaced chairs. We want you to know that we are working to ensure a safe environment for you and your family.

Another important reason to keep your well-visit appointment is to keep kids up to date on their vaccines. While we are focused on COVID-19, it is important to stay on schedule to protect against other diseases like measles, mumps, and the whooping cough.

As a trusted partner to our community, to the Louisiana Department of Education, and to you, Children’s Hospital is working with schools to ensure a safe transition back to school. Remember to schedule your child’s well-visit before school starts. To find a Children’s Hospital Pediatrics office near you, check out www.chnola.org/pediatrics.

Dr. Brandace Hider

Dr. Brandace Hider is a Children’s Hospital pediatrician and practices at our Napoleon Pediatrics clinics located at 33rd St. in Metairie and 3700 St. Charles Ave. in New Orleans. She earned her medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans and completed residency at LSU Health Sciences Center and Children’s Hospital. Dr. Hider is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. She chose pediatrics because she enjoys working with kids. “The continuity of primary care pediatrics allows me to actively contribute to the healthy growth and development of future generations. Plus, there are many opportunities to let my inner kid shine!”