If you’re feeling anxious about Washoe County School District’s decision to return to school during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, you’re probably not alone. Whether you have kids attending school, or loved ones who work in the school system, this school year is different. Below are a few ways to help, mentally and physically, ease your child back to the classroom.
5 Ways to Support Your Child’s Mental Health
Physically returning to school after months of being away may be overwhelming for many children. Having an open conversation beforehand can help put your child at ease. In particular, assure them that being nervous is normal – even in the best of times. Equally important, approach the subject with empathy and support.
1. Discuss the importance of adhering to the safety rules and why this keeps them safe, such as:
- Why face masks and coverings matter
Consider having several cloth masks available for your child. And let them choose them as you would other school supplies.
- Physical distancing
- The State of Nevada recommends that middle school and high school students and staff members maintain a 6-foot distance from one another.
- Elementary school students are recommended to keep a 3-foot distance from one another, and elementary staff members maintain a 6-foot distance from each other in Nevada.
- Illustrate the 3-foot length by standing next to your child with your arms outstretched, but not touching them.
- Clean hands
- Frequent hand washing for a minimum of 20 seconds, or hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol (for staff and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer).
- Why face masks and coverings matter
RELATED: Updates for the coming school year
2. Explain the reasons for these safety measures. Please help your child feel empowered by wearing a mask and keeping their friends safe. Avoid instilling any sense of fear about the virus.
3. Watch for the warning signs of anxiety with a change in your child’s behavior or habits such as:
- Not sleeping or eating well
- Disinterested in normal activities
- Avoiding friends
- Emerging habits such as bed wetting or sucking their thumb
4. Read a book to your child about coronavirus – download a free eBook.
5. Please remind your children that yes, it will be different, but by sticking to the rules, they can see their friends and teachers and continue learning in a new way.
5 Ways to Keep Your Child Healthy
Preventing illness should not be top-of-mind for most children during school hours. Instead, schoolwork, reading, practicing math problems, and socializing at recess should be priorities. Below are some ways to help your child confidently return to school and stay healthy.
1. Schedule a well-child appointment to ensure your child’s vaccines are up-to-date and address any health concerns.
RELATED: Getting Your Child’s Appointments Back on Track
2. Practice wearing a mask before school starts. Help your child feel comfortable by wearing masks in the home and during any outing. Make mask-wearing fun! Find a few cloth masks for your child with their favorite cartoon characters or animals to help build their excitement. Remember, launder cloth masks regularly in hot water.
Here are some other reminders to share with your child:
- Wash hands for at least 30-seconds or use hand sanitizer before and after taking off a mask.
- Do not share masks.
- Avoid touching or readjusting a mask while wearing it.
- Masks should not be lowered below the nose or worn under the mouth on the chin.
3. Teach your child proper hand-washing. It is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infections. If your child is old enough, teach correct hand sanitizer use in case soap and water are not available.
Practice washing your hands with your child every time you return home or before (and after) eating meals or snacks.
4. Please remind your child to avoid sharing toys or food. Encourage them to share jokes, stories, and ideas with their friends instead. Sharing is an important habit to develop in children, but that could mean sharing unwanted germs.
5. Keep your child home from school. When in doubt, keep your child home if they are ill, experiencing any cold or flu symptoms, or have come in contact with a person testing positive with COVID-19.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention): Checklists to Guide Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers, Considerations for Wearing Masks and What to Do If You Are Sick.
Nebraska Medicine: COVID-19 classroom conversations guide.