Return to school safely with COVID-19 precautions

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Posted August 21, 2020 | By Christy Jergens, Marion County Health Department

As in-person learning at schools resumes starting Monday, everyone in their households should take steps to stay healthy and protect each other from getting sick. Practice everyday preventive actions, limit interactions with other people, and stay informed on COVID-19 updates.

Back to school planning: how to protect your family and loved ones

For many families, back-to-school planning will look different this year than it has in previous years. Your school will have new policies in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. You may also be starting the school year with at-home learning. Whatever the situation, these tips are intended to help parents, guardians and caregivers plan and prepare for the upcoming school year.

Children should be advised to do the following:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer comprised of at least 60 percent alcohol. Make sure you are using a safe product. The FDA provides a list of hand sanitizers consumers should not use. Adults should monitor children while they use hand sanitizer.
  • Maintain a recommended physical distance from other people, including other students.
  • Wear a cloth face covering or face shield as directed, based on the school’s guidelines.
  • Avoid sharing objects with other students, including water bottles, devices, writing instruments and books.
  • Develop daily routines before and after school— for example, things to pack for school in the morning (like hand sanitizer) and things to do when you return home (like washing hands immediately).
  • Be familiar with your school’s plan for how they will communicate with families when a positive case or exposure to someone with COVID-19 is identified and ensure student privacy is upheld.
  • Be sure that your child does not attend class (except virtually, if available) if he or she is awaiting COVID-19 test results. If someone other than the student within your household is awaiting COVID-19 test results, make sure that person stays isolated away from others until test results are received.

Older adults and people with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for serious illness from COVID-19. If your household includes anyone who is at increased risk, then all family members should exercise the appropriate precautions.

People who live in multi-generational households may find it difficult to take precautions to protect themselves from COVID-19 or isolate those who are sick, especially if space is limited. It is important to understand potential risks and how to adopt different types of prevention measures to protect your family and to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. The CDC recently created guidance for multi-generational households. Although the guidance was developed as part of the CDC’s outreach to tribal communities, the information could be useful for all families, including those with both children and older adults in the same home. You can also contact your local health department for guidance.

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