Across the country, parents are preparing their students — and themselves — for a back-to-school season unlike any we’ve had before. Whether your children will be learning remotely at home or returning to in-classroom instruction, keeping them healthy is going to require more than the usual nutritious snacks and a regular bedtime.
The coronavirus pandemic can feel overwhelming sometimes, but there’s actually a lot you can do to keep your family healthy as summer vacation draws to a close and the new school year begins. In combination with the protective measures taken by your school and public health agencies, together, we can keep kids safe while helping their young minds grow. Follow these back-to-school health tips to learn how to do just that!
1. Teach your children to wear their masks
According to the CDC, cloth face masks help slow the spread of COVID-19, especially in settings where social distancing is challenging. Start practicing and encouraging good mask-wearing habits at home before school starts. If your children are returning to the classroom, it will help protect them, their fellow students, and their teachers and staff. If they’re doing virtual learning from home, masks are still important anytime your kids go out in public.
2. Help your children find healthy ways to manage stress
This school year will be unlike any your children have experienced before. Rapid change and unfamiliar situations can be stressful for anyone, and children are often less equipped to manage that stress. They may also be discouraged that they cannot spend time with friends after school or participate in their favorite activities, all of which previously helped them reduce their stress.
Help your kids find new ways to lower their stress, such as exploring new hobbies, coordinating video calls with their friends, indulging in some video games, and more. Most importantly, be sure to let your child know that feeling some day-to-day stress is normal, but that they should talk with you anytime they feel overwhelmed and want some help.
3. Encourage your children to stay active
Especially if your child is participating in classes online, it’s important that they take frequent breaks to get up, move around and stretch. According to the Baltimore Business Journal, “frequent stretching keeps a proper blood and nutrient supply to the working muscles and tissues throughout the workday [schoolday] and prevents fatigue and discomfort … while reducing stress and increasing energy.”
Students should consider taking breaks from sitting every 30 minutes – whether it be walking around the block or strolling to the kitchen – according to a study from researchers at Weill Cornell Medical Center, University of Michigan, and Columbia Medical Center.
4. Practice washing hands together
Washing hands is an important way to help prevent the spread of disease even in normal times. During this pandemic, it’s more important than ever. Teach your children to wash their hands thoroughly and frequently throughout the day. Check out the CDC’s guidelines for handwashing, then practice with them at home. You can even make a game of it by singing a song together as you wash. Remember to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or the length of your favorite song.
5. Continue taking your children to their doctor
While going anywhere outside your home during this pandemic can feel risky, doctors’ offices are one of the safest places you can go to receive needed care and treatment. It’s far riskier to avoid or delay check-ups and medical care, possibly leaving serious health issues undetected or untreated.
Most doctors’ offices — including all of YourTown Health’s community health centers — are taking extraordinary precautions to ensure the health and safety of their patients and staff. So, keep scheduling those annual well-check visits for your children, and reach out to your doctor anytime your children show signs of needing medical attention.
If you would like to speak to our team further about back-to-school health tips or schedule a well-check visit, click here to contact the experts at YourTown Health or call 770-463-4644.