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Back to School Safety

Back to School Safety

With August in full swing, parents and kids everywhere are readying themselves for the return of another school year. But the 2021-2022 academic calendar will probably look a lot different from years past, especially with the hindsight of Coronavirus in the back of everyone’s minds. Here’s how you can ensure your child stays safe re-entering the classroom this year.

 

The question on every parent’s mind is likely “What is the mask policy for returning to school?” For the fall 2021 school year, the CDC recommends “universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.” If your child is still unvaccinated but is eligible, now may be the best time to receive a Coronavirus vaccine along with any other vaccinations required for school re-entry.

 

Hygiene is a Top Priority

Make sure to talk with your child about social distancing, hand-washing, covering their mouth when sneezing or coughing, and being careful of touching surfaces or other students while at school, or the journey to and from school if your child takes a bus or other public transportation. The CDC reports that handwashing is the best preventive method for reducing the spread of Coronavirus, and if unavailable, regularly using hand sanitizer is the next best method (via CDC). Pack extra masks in your child’s school bag in case they lose theirs, include a small bottle of hand sanitizer and/or wipes, and be sure all food is securely wrapped or stored.

 

Clean Air is More Important Than You Think

Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask questions of your school board when it comes to safety and hygiene policies. Ask about the availability of hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer, how teachers and staff are ensuring the utmost safety of students, and what the school’s ventilation is like. In a 2012 study conducted by researchers at The University of Reading School of Construction Management and Engineering, Monodraught Ltd, and The University of Reading in the United Kingdom, evidence shows that low ventilation in classrooms has a significant negative impact on students’ attention, vigilance, memory, and concentration (via Academia). If you are concerned about the air quality or ventilation in your child’s school, consider suggesting the implementation of an air purifier to reduce airborne pollutants and ultimately benefit the learning of all students.

 

Safety Beyond Masks and Handwashing

And because safety doesn’t just stop with proper mask-wearing and handwashing, talk to your child about what a safe school environment means—that everyone is treated respectfully and included. Try to educate your student on the importance of using proper pronouns, being aware of “stranger danger,” if they walk to and from school, and identifying harmful or unsafe situations and how to respond appropriately.