In recent weeks, many individuals in the U.S. have been wondering what will happen if the new COVID-19 spreads to their communities. Should people continue to attend large public gatherings? Will schools be closing? Should they? While initial reports indicate that children don’t seem to be particularly susceptible to the virus, many parents worry about their children going to school. With warnings from federal officials coming last Tuesday, those concerns have only increased. So what can parents do to help protect their children? Here are a few suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Common Sense Prevention Measures
One of the most important things we can do to prevent ourselves and our children from becoming ill is to avoid those who are sick. If a family member becomes sick, do what you can to limit your contact with that individual. That may mean temporarily having that individual convalesce in one room of the house while the rest of the family has as little contact with them as possible.
You’ll want to regularly clean and disinfect the surfaces in your home, particularly if someone is sick.
Another common-sense measure parents can take is to do what you can to fortify your child’s immune system. Ensuring proper nutrition and adequate sleep can go a long way in preventing illness.
If there is an outbreak in your community, do what you can to limit the amount of time you and your children spend in public places. Avoid going out to eat or visiting the theater until local health officials deem it safe. Make sure you have stocked up on necessary household supplies so you can avoid the grocery store as well.
Review Basic Hygiene & Health Etiquette
We all know kids can be a bit gross sometimes when it comes to personal hygiene. One thing parents can do to keep kids healthy is to encourage them to wash their hands regularly. Teach children to avoid touching their nose, eyes, or mouth without first having washed their hands. Remind kids to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer after touching frequently handled items, or when they cough or sneeze.
Speaking of coughing and sneezing, another practice to emphasize with children is to have them avoid coughing or sneezing into their hands. Instead, tell them to cough or sneeze into a tissue or the crook of their elbow. Covering one’s mouth and nose can help to prevent the spread of germs to others.
Going to School
While your child needs to get an education, refrain from sending a sick child to school, daycare, or after school activities. Besides the fact that children aren’t likely to get much out of classes when they’re achy, coughing, and feverish, the potential for spreading a contagious illness is immense. The same is true for adults – do your part to avoid infecting others by staying home.
Your child’s school will likely communicate with parents about what measures they’re taking to prevent an outbreak. The CDC has recommended that schools review their emergency operating procedures, monitor attendance, prepare for potential school closures, and take proper precautions such as cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces. Take time to learn about your child’s school or child care facility’s emergency operations plan. Local public health officials may recommend temporary school closures to help ease the spread of illness. School officials could also decide to cancel school if too many students or staff become ill. It’s a good idea to find out what the plan is for continuing education and social services like student meal programs in the event of a closure.
Parents should consider asking their employer for permission to work from home in the event of a school closure or speak with relatives who may be able to help provide care for children during a shutdown.
Finally, parents should stay informed. You can do so by checking the CDC’s website (www.cdc.gov/ncov) regularly. And remember to take care of yourself as well.
Dr. Edward S. Thalheimer is the President and Founder of The Tutoring Franchise Corp. If you would like further information about how to help children who need educational assistance, please go to www.tutoringcenter.com.