This summer is ending like any other – squeezing in last minute trips to the beach, fitting in a few more afternoons splashing at the pool, and solidifying the friendships that flourish in summer camp. But a time that’s usually met by parental relief with kids going back to school, is now full of anxieties abound. What can we expect for this school year? Is there anything we can do to help school go smoothly during the second year of COVID? Dr. Jessica Simkins, pediatrician at Westmed Medical Group, shares what parents can expect when school is back in session and a few ways to help keep your children safe.
A safe and effective intervention in kids and adults alike, masks will inevitably be part of most infection reduction strategies for any school aiming to keep transmission rates low. Most children and teens will comfortably wear their mask if it is supported by their parents and peers – so setting the example before the school year starts will make the transition to school much easier. Ultimately, the best mask is the one your child will be comfortable wearing – either a layered cloth mask (wash frequently), a surgical mask, or even an N95 mask for children who are high-risk are all options.
Teens age 12 and up are all eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at this time, and we highly recommend them. If the COVID-19 vaccine schedule at Westmed is full, you can always sign up to receive email notifications when new appointments open up at Westmed’s COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics here. Please note that appointments are ONLY offered through our online scheduling tool and cannot be booked by phone. Talk to your child’s doctor if you have questions prior to scheduling your vaccine appointment. For younger school-aged children, we expect to have an update on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine by October. If the data looks good, we hope they will be eligible before the winter gets going.
Outdoor activities should be supported and encouraged, especially during this time. Kids need movement, and kids need their friends. We cannot forget this as we work to keep them safe. Indoor activities should be engaged in with masks and caution. As we get towards the colder months, it is so important that we stay active. The increasing rates of obesity and depression last winter are not a fair trade off for COVID-19 safety. We can stay healthy if we stay smart!
The strongest predictor of a child’s resilience is having a reliable, safe, encouraging caregiver in their life. Sometimes that is a parent; sometimes a parent needs to care for themselves first and ask someone else to step in. We support you in supporting your family, however that may look. Find time to be fun, silly and engaging. Always have something to look forward to – whether it’s a “stay-cation” on the living room floor, cooking a meal together or an outdoor bar-be-que with a few close friends. For teenagers, avoid the epidemic of boredom – limit screen time in favor of family time. Cheer each other on, and watch for signs of loneliness. Now more than ever, we recognize the importance of togetherness; let’s aim to strengthen those connections no matter what this new year brings.