Back to school jitters is a phrase taking on a whole new meaning for parents and students this year due to the coronavirus. Health experts say, however, being equipped with the right knowledge and tools can help children safely head back to school.
Right now, parents should be having conversations with their children about the importance of social distancing and proper hygiene, like washing their hands frequently or using hand sanitizer, according to senior virologist, Dr. Warner Green with the Gladstone Institutes.
If you have little ones, Green suggests teaching them how to wear masks properly and encouraging them to practice wearing them at home as well as out in public.
"These are all ways to help slow the spread of the virus," Green said. "The good news is children and young children, in particular, do not seem to be vectors of this coronavirus. Their biggest risk of being infected is from their parents, or from their teacher, and if they do get infected, they don't generally bring the virus home or spread it to other classmates."
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Green says the risk of transmission does increase with older children though. For this age group, he suggests sending them to school with extra hand sanitizer or Lysol or Clorox wipes to clean down workspaces.
And when those kids get home from school, he advises practicing good hygiene there as well.
"I think the first thing kids should do when they come home is wash their hands…take off your mask safely," Green said. "Those are much more key activities for kids than for example having to take a shower or change clothes. Those carry a very low risk for transmission."
It's also not a bad idea to designate a space in your home for disinfecting. When children come home from school, Green suggests encouraging them to leave their shoes and other belongings in that area cleaning.