When the COVID-19 pandemic first emerged, it made sense to take students out of school. Transitioning to virtual learning environments bought time for experts to learn more about the virus.
Along the way, we also learned that in-person school is vital to the development of young people. Not only is it a place to learn, but it offers opportunities to socialize, and for many students, access to nutritious meals and other vital services.
As the COVID-19 Omicron variant continues to spread and infections increase, parents may think they are helpless in protecting their children as they head back to the classroom. While much of the pandemic has seemed out of our control, there are a few simple steps parents can take that can help make sure their children start the school year right.
Currently, children over the age of 12 are eligible for any one of the three vaccines: Moderna, Pfizer, or Johnson & Johnson. If your child fits the age criteria, experts highly recommend they be vaccinated. Someone is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines and two weeks after the single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Currently the CDC has updated the vaccine booster recommendations. To learn more, visit CDC Booster Recommendations.
In addition to pencils, notebook paper, and markers, add face masks to your back-to-school shopping list this year. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that any child over the age of 2 wear a face mask that covers their nose and mouth. A mask that fits snugly around the nose and mouth can protect children who are not yet eligible to get the vaccine or for those who have not yet received it. Most children can wear masks without issue, and with all the varieties available, parents can make it fun.
Temperatures and symptoms
While it may not be feasible for schools to take temperatures every day, families should monitor their child’s health, including their temperature. If your child has a fever of 100.4 or higher, it is a sign of illness. Keep your child home if they are running a high temperature or are exhibiting any other symptoms of COVID-19, including:
· Nasal congestion and runny nose
· Sore throat
· Muscle aches
· Nausea or vomiting
· Loss of taste or smell
· Shortness of breath
Hand hygiene was necessary before the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent the spread of germs that cause the flu, common cold, and other illnesses. With students headed back to the classroom during the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to keep their hands clean. Set aside time to explain to your child the importance of washing hands with warm soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If they are in a place where hand washing is not available, make sure they are armed with hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
As simple as it may sound, getting adequate rest is key to keeping a child’s immune system strong to help fight off infections. The last couple of years more than likely have wreaked havoc with your child’s sleep schedule, especially with a drastic change in routine. Start the school year off right with a consistent sleep schedule. Institute a “no screen time” at least 30-60 minutes before bedtime and create a calming routine with a warm bath, a book, puzzle, or something to help children unwind.
Make sure kids are receiving proper nutrition. During the onset of the pandemic, the temptation might have been to load up on junk foods and sugary snacks. A diet full of vegetables, fruits, whole grain carbohydrates, and proteins can play a role in strengthening a child’s immune system. Take advantage of the school meal programs that offer nutritious food, even when school is closed or when a child needs to stay home due to illness.
Drinking plenty of fluids and staying hydrated also plays a role in supporting your child’s immune system. There is no magic number when it comes to the amount of water a child should drink daily. It all depends on their size, weight, overall health, and activity level. Make sure kids are adequately hydrated to help keep their immune systems in check.
Community First ER is here for you
Should your child come down with COVID-19, Community First ER is here for you. We have same-day rapid testing (RT) polymerase chain (PCR) results available only for emergency exposure or patients with symptoms. No appointment is necessary, and walk-ins are accepted. With both adult and pediatric care available, you will experience little to no wait times to receive our personalized, compassionate, and concierge-level services. Our board-certified physicians and registered nurses will treat your child like family, making their health a top priority. We are here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
About Community First ER
Emergency health care is a critical resource. Our commitment is to provide a personal, transparent, and concierge-driven emergency health care experience to our community members. Locally owned and operated by health care providers and partners we trust, we strive to support and create meaningful relationships with those around us. We exist to put your health and wellness first. For more information, visit our website at https://communityfirster.com/ and engage with us on social media.