A black father puts a mask on his daughter
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Preparing for In-Person School During a Pandemic

As you anxiously await word on how school is going to happen this September, there are steps that you can take now to prepare your children for a possible return to the classroom. CCE of Columbia and Greene Counties recommends focusing on four things: masks, social distancing, hygiene, and communication.These recommendations are based on what plans have looked like from schools that have already released them and will be updated as more information about schools become known.

  1. Masks: Get kids used to wearing masks properly now so that they are comfortable with them when they head back to school in the Fall.Have them help pick out a mask they like.If they have not been wearing a mask until now, have them get used to it by wearing it for short periods of time.Slowly increase the amount of time they wear it until they are comfortable wearing it all the time.Make sure that they are wearing it properly, covering their nose and mouth.Have them practice taking it on and off so that they can remove it during periods they are allowed to in school without having to ask for help putting it back on.Be a good mask role model and make sure you wear yours any time you are going out in public.
  2. Social Distancing: Just like masks, getting children used to what 6 feet apart means will make their transition back to school easier.Make sure kids know what 6 feet looks like by showing them; you can use a tape measure, or other objects to show just how far apart it really is.If you know someone who is close to 6 feet tall, have them lie on the ground so that they have an easy reminder, for example 6 feet is one Uncle Mike.Make sure they understand that the school will not allow them to be closer to their classmates or teacher than that space.
  3. Hygiene: Handwashing will need to be done properly and often during the course of the school day.Talk to them about how important it is to use soap and water, and to wash for 20 seconds.Teach them to sing “Happy Birthday” twice or their “ABC’s” once to make sure they are washing the full 20 seconds.Make sure they understand they should be using hand sanitizer if soap and water is unavailable.
  4. Communication: Even if children return to school in the Fall, it will not be a return to normal.They will not be able to socialize with their friends the same way as before, they will have to wear masks, and they may not have some of the same classes they have always had.They also may be fearful of the virus and what will happen if they or someone else gets sick.It is important to start talking to your children now about what they can expect and how they feel about it.Make sure to listen without offering advice and be sure to validate their feelings.Until you know what your school’s final reopening plan is,talk to your kids about all the possible options so that they are not caught by surprise if they do not return in September.

Additional Resources

Helping Kids Get Used to Masks

How to encourage your child to wear a mask for COVID-19 protection

Columbia County and Greene County COVID-19 Resources

Last updated October 19, 2020