In these uncertain times, we must protect our children.
I honestly can’t believe that I am writing this post, but since many of our children are going back to school in the middle of a pandemic that is ravaging this country, it’s important to prioritize safety, and exercise caution.
This probably seems impossible with children. They cough with their mouths open, can’t keep a mask on to save their lives (possibly literally), and thrive on social interactions with other children. Trying to keep your children safe at school all day is like trying to wrangle kittens. It’s basically impossible, but we still have to do our best.
These are unprecedented times, so I can’t honestly say what will or won’t work. But here is my plan for trying to keep my kids safe and healthy when they inevitably have to return to school.
Explain Covid-19 to them thoroughly. Explaining the pandemic to your children in a realistic way is very important. They need to know that practicing good hygiene, and wearing masks isn’t about them, it’s about protecting their loved ones, like their parents and grandparents. Kids think they are personally invincible, but they understand the need to protect family members. As scary as it all is, try not to scare them.
Teach social distancing/coughing and sneezing etiquette. Teach your children to try and avoid large crowds (I know this is ridiculous), and try and stay 6 feet away from people, even if they have to walk out of their way. Tell them to leave the room if they need to cough or sneeze. If they can’t, teach them to cough or sneeze into their elbow. If they are old enough, teach them how virus particles transfer through the air, so they can try and protect themselves and their friends at school by social distancing as much as humanly possible.
Buy them travel hand-sanitizer. Diligent use of hand sanitizer is a good lesson to learn in general. Buy your kids some keychain hand-sanitizers that can clip to their backpacks. Teach them to sanitize regularly throughout the day and whenever they come in contact with foreign surfaces.
Teach them to ignore anti-maskers. Unfortunately, there will be bullies, whose parents don’t believe in masks, who might make fun of your child for valuing safety. Teach your kids to ignore these bullies, and express compassion. A child is not responsible for the willful ignorance of their parent.
Create fashionable masks. Depending on your child’s age, try and buy or create fashionable masks for them to wear. If they are super young, this might involve Princess Poppy, from the Trolls Movie. If they are older, it might involve a political statement, or Billie Eilish lyrics. Try and make mask-wearing as easy on your kids as possible.
Implement an at-home ‘sanitizing’ routine. Teach your kids to sanitize themselves when they get home from school. This should involve taking off their shoes, washing their hands and face, and spraying down their lunchboxes and backpacks with disinfectant.
Given that there is no real leadership information on this, we are all just doing the best we can. Your only responsibility right now though, is to keep your kids safe. Hopefully this checklist helps in that endeavor.