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Back to school: COVID-19 safety tips for parents and kids

In some areas of Washington state, younger students are heading back to the classroom. School districts have created systems to keep students and staff safe, parents are trying to prepare kiddos for their new normal, and everyone is working to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak in the classroom.

Here are some of the most important precautions parents can help their children take this school year to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

1. Have your child properly wear a mask.

Wearing a face mask, or other type of cloth face covering, is one of the most effective ways to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Teachers will be wearing masks to prevent spreading the virus to children, who seem to be less susceptible to COVID-19 than adults, but this safety precaution is most effective when everyone is on board.

Getting your 5-year-old to wear a mask all day might be asking a lot. If your child can tolerate it, send them to school with one, and go over the dos and don’ts of mask wearing beforehand.

Show them the correct way to wear a mask (cover the mouth and nose) and teach them proper mask hygiene (try not to touch it, and don’t set it down on surfaces that could be contaminated).

For older kids, get them used to the idea of wearing face masks now so they’re ready when it’s time for them to go back to the classroom.

Learning tip: Let kids choose cool face mask designs to make mask-wearing more fun.

2. Keep kids home when they’re sick.

Under normal circumstances, parents should keep sick children home. During the COVID-19 pandemic, even minor ailments should be taken seriously.

The coronavirus has a wide variety of symptoms, including stomachache, diarrhea, headache, cough and fever. If your child has any symptoms of COVID-19, contact a health care provider right away.

Be sure to call ahead before visiting a hospital, medical clinic or urgent care. You can also take a quick online assessment using  Indigo Urgent Care’s Virtual Assistant, or arrange an e-Visit with an  Indigo Online Care provider to determine if your child should be tested.

All Indigo Urgent Care locations across Washington offer COVID-19 tests. Learn more about our  COVID-19 testing.

Learning tip: Check out Indigo’s virtual assistant. Indy is available 24/7 to answer your questions about COVID-19 symptoms, testing and other services provided at our convenient locations.

3. Promote habits that keep kids healthy.

We all know the drill by now. As kids return to school, now’s the time to drive home the importance of healthy habits to protect your little ones and those around them. Along with properly wearing a mask, make sure they know when and how to wash hands, how to cover coughs and sneezes, and how to avoid close contact with others. Healthy eating will also boost young immune systems.

Learning tip: Ensure your little learner is getting enough sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 9-12 hours of sleep each day for children ages 6-12.

4. Remind kids about social distancing, and limit interactions outside of the classroom.

Staying at least 6 feet apart helps lower the chance one person could spread the coronavirus to someone else. While in the classroom or moving around the school, remind children to stay as far apart as they can from one another.

While it’s tempting to schedule playdates after kids have been inside for so long, avoid visiting inside another person’s home. Socially distanced outdoor play (e.g., biking, kicking a soccer ball, etc.) is a safer alternative.

Learning tip: For younger children, ask them to lift their arms like an airplane, to help them visualize a safe “wingspan.”

5. Find ways to lower stress levels.

The COVID-19 pandemic is stressful for everyone. For many families, returning to in-person learning may take fears and anxiety to another level. Learn more about signs of stress in children, ways to support your child and how to take care of your own mental health.

6. Work together to keep students healthy.

The best way to care for students and prevent the spread of COVID-19 is for educators and parents to work together. Parents should ask teachers and administrators what precautions they are taking.

Schools should encourage parents to send kids to school with supplies like disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer and washable backpacks. And both parents and teachers should be on the same page when it comes prevention techniques like washing hands and wearing face masks.

Simple adjustments to normal school routines can go a long way to keep everyone safer. And remember, Indigo Urgent Care is here for you and your family if you need care for a minor illness or injury.

We’re open 8 am to 8 pm, every day, including weekends and holidays. Schedule online to  reserve an appointment time, or walk in for care.

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