Students will return to in-school learning this fall but don’t expect a return to pre-pandemic procedures.
The California legislature made it mandatory for districts to offer in-person school as vaccine availability increased, though families will have the option to continue learning from home.
Masks are still required despite recommendations issued recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that made them optional for vaccinated people. The CDC also recommended three feet of distance in classrooms which the state department of education said was unrealistic.
Therefore, the California Department of Public Health is pairing mask guidelines with access to testing as their prevention strategy:
- California continues to require masks be worn indoors in school settings, to ensure that all kids are treated the same.
- Every California school has access to free testing through the state testing program.
COVID-19 in Kids
It’s still unclear how many children have been infected with COVID-19 and how dangerous it is because testing has been focused on adults and those at risk for severe illnesses. There is evidence to suggest children can carry the virus just like adults and spread it to others.
It’s important to make sure kids have good habits to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. That means reinforcing daily activities like:
- Washing hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds
- Wearing a mask over the nose and mouth when around people
- Avoiding close contact with others, especially those who are sick
- Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the crook of an arm
If your children already practice this at home, they should have no problem doing this at school.
Getting Back into a Routine
Nothing has been routine for the last 18 months and it will be a while before we get back to pre-pandemic living. But going back to school means children need their normal school vaccinations. You child’s school also needs your current contact information in case of an emergency.
But there will also be some new things to consider to keep your child and those around them, safe. You should:
- Check children for signs of illness every day, especially a fever over 100.4, cough, diarrhea, vomiting, or body aches.
- Be aware of whom children come in contact with, in case someone tests positive for COVID-19.
- Learn whom to contact at the school if your child has been exposed.
- Know the local COVID-19 testing sites should your child show symptoms.
- Review and practice proper hand-washing techniques at home and explain why they’re important.
- Develop daily routines of what to pack for school (sanitizer, extra masks, a water bottle) and what to do when they get home (washing hands and masks immediately).
After school, you’ll also want to ask questions that go deeper than, “How was your day?” Ask if everyone was in class and wearing their masks, including teachers and staff, and if anyone talked to them about staying safe and practicing good habits. Find out if anyone coughed a lot or had to leave the classroom or school. It’s important to be aware of what is happening in their environment at school because it could affect your environment at home.
Coping with Change
AltaMed is available to help you with resources for dealing with COVID-19, including free vaccines. We also provide counseling services to help navigate the stress children may be coping with as they return to school.