A Checklist to Help Parents Keep Kids Healthy As COVID-19 Variants Spread

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We’d all hoped that worries about the coronavirus would be gone by this fall, but COVID-19 variants continue to spike case numbers around the country. 

The delta variant is by far the root of most new cases, although health experts are growing increasingly worried about the mu variant, which has been found in all 50 states and has mutations that suggest it could evade the immunity given by natural infection or even vaccination. 

That means that we must continue to acknowledge that schools and child care centers still may not look or feel the same as before coronavirus. Policies to reduce the spread of germs between staff and students will continue, such as new seating arrangements, hand hygiene stations, dedicated learning cohorts and masks. 

Kids are counting on their parents, guardians and other caregivers to help them develop new infection-prevention skills and figure out what to do if they or someone they know gets sick.

Let’s take a look at how you can help your families with a checklist that covers everything from basic school supplies and hygiene products to monitoring your child’s health status and emotional wellbeing as they learn and grow during the coronavirus pandemic.

Checklist for Parents Amidst COVID-19

Keeping Your Community Safe

  • Check Temperatures Daily: As your children return to school, make a habit of taking their temperature daily to check for signs of fever that could indicate illness. Children with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or greater should stay home from school and be tested for COVID-19.
  • Check for COVID-19 Symptoms Daily: Familiarize yourself with COVID-19 symptoms and do a basic screening of yourself and your child each day to make sure you’re feeling healthy.
  • Keep Your Child Home if Unwell or Symptomatic: If you find that your child is unwell, do not send him or her to school. If your children attend school while unwell, they may transmit the coronavirus to other members of the school community.
  • Establish a Contact Person at your Child’s School or Center: This person will be whom you will contact if you suspect that your child is ill. If your child becomes symptomatic, notify that person as soon as possible so local health officials can begin contact tracing and limit the spread of infection.
  • Identify Community Testing Sites: COVID-19 tests can be obtained at no charge at select pharmacies and health centers across the country. Find a center near you and have family members tested immediately if they present COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Ask Your School about New COVID-19 Policies: Connect with school or child care center administrators and stay informed about new policies and procedures related to limiting coronavirus infections.

Preparing Your Child for Effective Infection Prevention

  • Teach and Practice Healthy Hand Hygiene: Review the CDC guidelines for handwashing and practice them with your child. Kids should wash hands thoroughly using soap and lukewarm water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
  • Vaccinate Your Child: Children 12 and older can be vaccinated against COVID-19. Research has shown that the Pfizer vaccine is 100% effective in preventing the COVID-19 virus in children ages 12 through 15, according to the Mayo Clinic. The vaccine is 91% effective in preventing severe illness with COVID-19 in people age 16 and older. Early research also suggests the vaccine is 96% effective at preventing severe disease caused by the delta variant, the most common COVID-19 variant in the U.S. right now.
  • Reinforce Physical Distancing: Talk to your children about the importance and benefits of physical distancing. Help them understand how to judge whether they are six feet apart from the nearest person. Play a physical distancing game with them so they can practice. 
  • Teach the Benefits of Face Coverings: The CDC recommends mask wearing to help slow the spread of COVID-19, and many local governments and states are mandating masks be worn in daycares and schools. Masks can prevent the spread of respiratory droplets that can transmit the virus. Talk to your kids about when and why they should wear a mask.
  • Plan for Your Child’s Transportation: Help your child plan to stay safe while traveling to and from school or daycare. If your child takes the bus, talk to him or her about the importance of wearing a mask on the bus.

Personal School Items to Purchase

  • School Supplies Not For Sharing: Kids returning to school this fall should avoid sharing objects with each other, including school supplies. Check with your child’s school for a list of recommended supplies for the year. 
  • Lunchbox: Many schools and daycare centers are switching to distributing packaged lunches in the cafeteria to reduce the time kids spend in this communal setting. Packing a healthy lunch and snacks for your children can give you peace of mind that their meals came from somewhere safe and help them avoid the cafeteria line. 
  • Water Bottle: Kids can bring their own water to school instead of using a public water fountain, sink or refill station when they get thirsty during the day.
  • Backpack Emergency Card: A backpack emergency card ensures that your children’s emergency contact info is always with them.

Infection Prevention Supplies for School

  • Disinfectant Wipes: Show your child how to wipe down shared surfaces like desks and chairs before using them.
  • Hand Sanitizer: Travel-sized dispensers fit into a side compartment on your child’s bag and can prove useful throughout the day.
  • Masks/Face Coverings: Children over age 2 are being required in many places to wear masks while in child care centers and schools. Talk to your child about why other people with breathing complications or asthma may not be wearing a face covering. Check out our recent blog with five tips you can use to effectively share rule changes about mask wearing with the families you serve.

Helping with Face Coverings

  • Choose the Right Face Coverings: Masks should fit comfortably on the face while completely covering your child’s mouth and nose. They should be tied at the back or secured with ear loops. Masks should be either machine washable or disposable after a single use.
  • Label Face Coverings: Label your child’s face coverings with their full names to prevent them from being mixed in with masks that belong to the school or to other children.
  • Help Your Child Practice Wearing a Mask: Help your children practice donning and removing their mask without touching the cloth part on the front. They should only touch the ear loops. 
  • Model Appropriate Face-Covering Etiquette: Your kids will follow your example. Be sure to model the right behaviors by wearing your own face coverings in the appropriate settings.
  • Help Your Young Child Build Comfort with Masks: Young children may be scared or hesitant about wearing a mask and this is normal! To make it seem less scary, offer your child praise for following the rules. You can also show him or her pictures of other children wearing masks, draw a mask on a favorite book or television character or put a mask on a favorite stuffed animal.

Supporting Your Child’s Mental Health

  • Talk to Your Child about Changes at School or Daycare: Talk to your children about the changes they will see when they return to school or daycare. Help them understand what to expect from the new policies and procedures. Reassure them that the new measures will help keep them safe in school, even if they feel like a big change.
  • Ask Your Child about their Interactions at School or Child Care: Ask your children about their interactions with teachers, school staff and other students. Find out how they’re feeling about the new changes and offer support.  
  • Watch for Behavior Changes: Changes like difficulty concentrating, poor sleeping or eating habits, moodiness, clinginess and other behavioral changes can signal that your child is having trouble adjusting to in-person classes during coronavirus. Talk to their doctor if you’re concerned by changes in your child’s behavior.
  • Stay Engaged: Stay in touch with administrators and teachers at your child’s school or child care center. Attend virtual meetings or activities and stay informed on how policies are changing. Make sure you’re on the contact list for the school’s emergency communications plan. Ask about programs that provide mental health services or help kids readjust to in-person classes during COVID-19.
  • Model Healthy Self-Care Habits: Kids learn life skills, including stress management skills, by watching their parents. To help your child cope with stress, model healthy self-care routines that include getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, eating healthy and maintaining social relationships.

How Procare Can Help Child Care Centers Help Parents

Parents must prepare their kids with the knowledge and skills to protect themselves and others while making the most of their time in school. And as a child care provider, it’s up to you to keep the children safe while in your care. 

The ability to log health checks throughout the day is offered by each of Procare’s child care software solutions

Through Procare Parent Engagement, child care administrators and staff can log health checks for children. And for Procare Desktop users, the Health Check Extra feature tracks staff health as well.

Drop-off and pick-up are the busiest times at a child care center, and these days, it’s not just about making sure children are checked in and out accurately and on time – it’s about ensuring the process is as safe as possible. That’s why Procare offers contactless check-ins and check-outs.

And when you automate payment processing, you don’t have to deal with physical checks or cash. Parents are able to pay online, eliminating the need for contact especially as they’re hurrying in and out of your child care center at busy times of the day. 

Request a demo today to see how Procare can help!

About The Author

Francie Dudrey

Francie Dudrey is Director of Content, Events and Brand at Procare Solutions, where she leverages Procare’s brand leadership to support our customers through meaningful content and compelling events. She also has two small children and deeply appreciates the value of high-quality child care.

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