Things you can do at home to prepare children for school and keep them safe:
1) COVID-19 vaccines. Adults with exposure to children, and all children eligible for the vaccine, should be immunized against COVID-19 – preferably before the start of the school year. There is no better protection from infection and no better way to prevent the spread to children than a vaccine.
2) Routine immunizations and wellness exams. Children need to be up-to-date on all of their routine immunizations, especially during a pandemic. Unfortunately, we have seen a significant drop in kids getting routine vaccines during the pandemic, raising the possibility of outbreaks of other vaccine-preventable illnesses, which could keep children at home even more. Common vaccine-preventable illnesses in our region, in addition to COVID-19, include influenza, pertussis, and upper respiratory infections caused by Pneumococcal or Haemophilus bacteria.
3) Practice wearing masks at home. All children over the age of 2 should wear face masks that cover their noses and mouths when at school. With practice at home, lots of support and encouragement, and successful role-modeling from parents, the vast majority of kids can safely and effectively wear masks for long periods, even those with medical conditions such as asthma.
4) Practice handwashing at home. Teaching your children to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before and after playing with other children, eating, or engaging in group activities can reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 and other illnesses such as RSV, Rhinovirus and Adenovirus, that spread through physical contact. In addition, kids who practice handwashing at home are better at it when it needs to be done at school.
5) Stay at home if symptomatic or exposed. All families should monitor their children’s health and stay at home if they have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or if they have had known exposure to someone with COVID-19. Please call your school if you have questions about their stay-at-home guidelines.
Brandon Greene, MD, FAAP is a pediatrician at Anacortes Family Medicine. He obtained his Doctor of Medicine degree from Cornell University Medical School in 2012 and, in 2015, completed his residency training at Comer Children’s Hospital where he was employed as Clinical Associate, Department of Pediatrics. While at Cornell University, Dr. Greene received the New York City Mayor’s Office Health Literacy Fellowship. “My approach to medicine is mostly as collaborator, educator and guide–someone parents can depend on to listen carefully and respectfully, and then to provide evidence-based guidance and advice on how parents can ensure the best outcomes for their children.”
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Greene, call Anacortes Family Medicine at (360) 293-3101.