5 On Your Side

5 On Your Side: How to send your child back to school safely

Posted July 23, 2020 6:51 a.m. EDT
Updated July 23, 2020 8:01 a.m. EDT

— If you are planning on sending you child back-to-school this year in the classroom, school is going to look a lot different. Classes won't be filled to the brim, there won't be packed lunchrooms and students won't be working side-by-side with one another.

For some children, this transition will be difficult. Talking to your children now about the changes can help them when they go back to school, experts said.

Here are some tips you can start now with your child before they go back to school:

  • Practice wearing a mask at home
  • Find a mask that fits them well and comfortably
  • Show them how to wash their hands and practice at home
  • Remind your student where they will be required to wear a mask
  • Show them what 6 feet of social distancing looks like

Emily Sickbert-Bennett, director of UNC Hospital's Infection Prevention, said to start looking for the best mask now.

"The best mask is a comfortable mask that you're willing to wear for prolonged periods of time," she said. "Practice wearing it at home before you go back to school."

Students will need to wear the mask on the bus, in class, in halls and outdoors. It's best to practice wearing it at home now before school begins.

During lunchtime the mask should go in some sort of bag, Sickbert-Bennett said.

"So it's not, you know, slipping off the table or kids aren't throwing them across the room, at each other," she said.

Another part of going back-to-school is social distancing. To demonstrate, try using a pool noodle, which is about 5 feet long. Tell you children to try and imagine they are carring it when they are walking around the hallways.

Focus at home on routines. When your child gets home, you will need to properly wash out their lunchbox and all of the items they bring to school. Plus, they will need to wash their hands. Establishing clear routines and designating a spot in the home for backpacks and lunchboxes will help make this more "normal."

Finally, encourage frequent handwashing.

"Rather than being concerned about every item, possibly in the environment that could be contaminated with anything, you know, really thinking about what are those key moments when you need to be washing your hands before you're touching your mouth and your nose," Sickbert-Bennett said.

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