Preparing for the Return to School in the Wake of COVID-19
While area schools set COVID-19 safety plans into effect for the official return to the classroom in the next few weeks, many parents are wondering what safeguards they should be putting into place as well. Since keeping our children, staff, and family members healthy during this unprecedented pandemic is the highest priority of our community, we certainly want to make sure we are all doing our part to ensure the safety of everyone upon our return to school.
Preparing Your Family for the Return to School
With the beginning of the new school year upon us, families have been filled with questions regarding how education administrators are planning to keep them safe in the wake of COVID-19. After several months of being away from the traditional classrooms, the return seems to carry a degree of uncertainty among families as we all work to safeguard our community from the spread of illness.
The best way to ensure the health and well-being of students and staff this school year is by staying informed of all guidelines and protocol as well as preparing ourselves for the new norms. School functions may look a bit different this year, but it doesn’t mean it needs to be scary or uncertain for our communities. There are several things families can do to help wane any animosity and keep the return to the classroom an exciting time for everyone.
Understanding State and Local Guidelines
The first step in preparing for the new school year is to familiarize yourself and your family members with the local and state regulations regarding safety in school settings. By knowing the legal health and safety requirements placed on all New Jersey childcare facilities and schools by the Department of Children and Families (DCF), we can begin to understand the extensive precautions being taken to ensure the safety of staff and students.
At the state level, schools are required to abide by strict COVID-19 safety protocols in order to remain open for in-person teachings this fall. These health measures include things like:
- Daily body temperature monitoring of all who enter the facility
- Classroom sizes are limited to no more than 10 students
- Face masks are required for all staff members
- Extensive sanitization and disinfectant cleaning routines by staff and students
- Completion of proper daily licensing log for the DCF to retain program eligibility
Preparing for School Safety Regulations
Once you have familiarized your family with the DCF requirements for a safe return to the classroom, the next step is to understand any additional protocol implemented by the school administration. Since many schools are opting to include more extensive health and safety regulations, it’s important to know what to expect before the first day of class.
At Tessa International, we have carefully considered the most efficient ways to ensure the safety of our students and staff and are already utilizing our On-Site Safety Measure Considerations that have been put into place for all summer programs as well as the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. Among the new protocols, families should prepare for the return with the following requirements:
- Staff are required to test for COVID-19 prior to the start of the school year. Students are urged (but not required) to do the same.
- Ensure all children are current with their physical health screenings and immunizations.
- Have all emergency medical and personal forms filled out in detail, including contact information in the event of sudden illness.
- Help children prepare for daily body temperature checks and health screenings by getting them used to this at home.
- Normalize frequent handwashing and the use of hand sanitizer at home – this will be a frequent occurrence during the school year.
Your 2020 School Supply Shopping List Additions
With the introduction of new health and safety procedures this year, it goes without saying there will be additional school supplies in order to perpetuate these sanitization efforts. In addition to the usual school supply items, families may be asked to provide items such as:
- Hand sanitizer
- Surface disinfecting products
Many schools may need help keeping up with essential sanitization and safety items, so it is possible you will see these items added to their list. As always, however, it’s best to check with school officials for a complete list of necessary supplies prior to the start of class to ensure your child is safely prepared for the first day.
Helping Kids Learn to Practice Healthy Germ Fighting Habits
One of the best ways families can prepare for the new year is by devoting time to helping children better understand what the changes will be and what is expected of them. By helping to normalize routines like frequent hand washing, using sanitizers, regular surface sanitizing regimens, and keeping safe distances from others, parents can help lessen any animosity they may face on the first day of class.
If you’re looking for ways to help your child ease into the new regulations, here are a few tips for parents to try:
- Practice hourly handwashing at home – more frequently as needed.
- Allow children to use child-safe cleaning and sanitization products on home surfaces after using them.
- Have children wear masks at home to enable them to get used to having them on during school.
Community Safety Commitment to School
While the current public health state has caused a great deal of change for our global communities, it has also shone light on our abilities to band together – even at a distance – and persevere. Our commitment to not only the health of our own families, but those of our friends, neighbors, and fellow community members, is what will help us not just pull through this pandemic but come out with a greater understanding and respect for all. Welcome back!