Back to school during COVID-19

Key takeaways:

  • Washington Schools have developed guidelines to open classrooms safely.
  • The Centers for Disease Control put together printable checklists to aid parents’ planning and preparation.
  • Masks, social distancing and student cohort groups will help protect against infection.

[3 MIN READ]

More and more schools are actively planning for a return to in-person learning – either on a full-time basis or with a hybrid combination of classroom-based and virtual instruction. If you have school-age children, this very different back-to-school experience may be raising questions and concerns for your child’s safety, such as:

  • How do I prepare my child, both mentally and physically, to return to school?
  • What precautions are being taken to keep my child from getting COVID-19?
  • When should my child take a sick day?

We can help you get the answers you need.

Preparation and planning

There are many ways you can help your child prepare to re-enter the routine of in-person learning.

Our pediatric experts recently shared helpful tips to set the stage for success if it’s been a while since your child’s been inside a classroom. And in this recent Facebook Live session, Back to School, Keeping Kids Safe, you can hear insights from Swedish pediatricians that will help you safeguard your family's health.

The Centers for Disease Control offers a resource designed to help you make informed decisions about your child’s school plans. They’ve also compiled checklists with helpful information whether your child is attending in-person classes or continuing virtual learning.

Educators are working extremely hard to ensure that schools are safe. Following some basic precautions goes a long way to reduce your child’s potential for getting COVID. 

Reducing potential exposure

Educators are working extremely hard to ensure that schools are safe. Following some basic precautions goes a long way to reduce your child’s potential for getting COVID. All students age 5 years and older, staff, volunteers and guests must wear cloth face coverings or an acceptable mask alternative while in K-12 settings, according to guidance from the Washington State Department of Health.

Other recommended precautions include:

  • Placing students into small groups, called cohorts, who remain together throughout the day and share a teaching team to reduce opportunities for exposure and transmission.
  • Assigned seating in classrooms for quick identification of potential exposure if one of the students becomes infected.
  • Practicing physical distancing of six feet or more whenever possible and limiting interactions such as passing others in the hallway or eating in large groups in the cafeteria.
  • Opening windows indoors and holding activities and lessons outdoors whenever weather permits.
  • Disinfecting and cleaning high-touch surfaces such as desktops, keyboards and office equipment regularly throughout the day.
  • Disinfecting and cleaning classrooms and common areas like playgrounds daily.

Daily assessment

Staff and students in Seattle’s schools must conduct a self-assessment health screening, called an attestation, before they go to school each day. Anyone who answers “yes” to any of the questions indicates they should remain home.

Questions include:

  • Do you have any COVID-19 symptoms?
  • Have you been in close contact with anyone confirmed with COVID-19?
  • Have you been told to self-monitor, self-isolate or self-quarantine because of COVID-19 concerns?

Teachers and staff are doing the best they can to adapt to the ever-changing learning environment caused by COVID-19. They will monitor the situation as it evolves and develop solutions that continue to keep your child safe.

What about sick days?

Monitoring your child on a daily basis will help prevent catching or transmitting COVID-19. You should not send your child to school if he or she is showing signs of illness like a fever, or other symptoms.

Check with your child’s school for specific guidelines or requirements that address when your child should stay home and when he or she is permitted to return after an illness.

Stay flexible

Teachers and staff are doing the best they can to adapt to the ever-changing learning environment caused by COVID-19. They will monitor the situation as it evolves and develop solutions that continue to keep your child safe while allowing learning and important social interaction to resume.

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Find a doctor

If you need to find a doctor or pediatrician who can help your child during this time, you can use our provider directory. Swedish offers in-person and virtual visits.

Find out more about how we’re handling COVID-19.

Related resources

Back to school looks different this year: Set the stage for success

COVID-19 Vaccine Updates

Managing expectations when timelines are dictated by COVID-19

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

About the Author

Our philosophy for well being is looking at the holistic human experience. As such, the Swedish Wellness & Lifestyle Team is committed to shining a light on health-related topics that help you live your healthiest life. From nutrition to mindfulness to annual screenings, our team offers clinically-backed advice and tips to help you and your loved ones live life to the fullest.

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