image of girl with backpack and mask

Back to School Tips: Keeping Kids Healthy During COVID-19

Loyola Medicine pediatrician Bridget Boyd, MDBy Bridget Boyd, MD, Pediatrics

Preparing to send kids back to school this year is more than just adjusting to a regular schedule, getting childcare in place and planning for homework and other after school activities. This year we are all faced with the challenge of how to keep our children safe at school and home during a global pandemic. We've compiled the following tips and reminders to help you start the school year off right, keeping safety and wellness your top priorities: 

 

Vaccinations 

Schedule a visit with your pediatrician or family doctor for your child's yearly physical and be sure your child is up-to-date on vaccines. It is also important to return for your yearly flu vaccination in the fall or when recommended by local health officials.

Handwashing 

Teach your children the importance of good hand washing. Soap and water for 20 seconds will kill most harmful bacterial and viruses. Pick a favorite song chorus to make things more fun!

Face Masks 

Practice at home for increasing time periods to help younger children get used to wearing a mask. Properly masking can help protect your child from getting sick and from getting others sick. Teach your child how to properly remove the mask using the straps instead of touching the fabric. This may be especially challenging for younger children and children with disabilities. Parents should model good behavior by stressing the importance of masks and wearing them in public. 

Stay Home If Not Feeling Well

Fever, malaise, cough, sore throat, vomiting and diarrhea can all be signs of infection or disease.

Allergies

If your child has a history of fall allergies, please give daily antihistamines to avoid confusion with viral infection and minimize missed days of school. Help them learn to avoid touching or rubbing their eyes and nose. Sneezing can be a challenge. Keep tissues available and teach them to immediately wash hands after discarding soiled tissue. If possible, send your child with extra masks. 

Sleep

Many of us have fallen into late bedtime routines since the pandemic struck. Work toward normalizing bedtime in the upcoming weeks to help your child adjust gradually to an earlier schedule. Most children need 10-12 hours of sleep. Keep electronics such as tablets and phones out of the bedroom as they interfere with sleep and make it easier to stay up late. 

Don't be surprised if your children have some difficulties adjusting after isolation for many months away from peers. School is going to look and feel a lot different. Children handle stress differently than adults and may act out or be quieter. Listen to them and be patient. Reach out to your doctor if reactions seem extreme or do not lessen in a reasonable time period. 

Bridget Boyd, MD, is a pediatrician at Loyola Medicine. She earned her medical degree from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and completed a residency in pediatrics at Loyola University Medical Center. Her clinical interests include allergies, asthma, eczema and obesity in children. 

Book an appointment with Dr. Boyd today by calling 888-584-7888.