BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – As capital area families prepare to send their children back to school in August, some parents may have COVID-related concerns.
The Mayo Clinic assures parents that though COVID outbreaks can occur in such institutions when schools take proper precautions the spread of the virus on campus is often lower than or similar to community spread.
The Mayo Clinic suggests concerned parents consider the following information:
If your child wears a face mask in school, consider these tips:
- Have your child wear the most protective mask possible that fits well and is comfortable.
- Provide your child with a clean mask and a backup mask each day. Consider giving your child a clean, resealable bag to store the mask during lunch.
- Label your child’s mask so it’s not confused with other children’s masks. Tell your child to never wear another child’s used mask.
In general, the CDC recommends that people who haven’t been fully vaccinated keep a physical distance of at least 6 feet (2 meters) from people who aren’t in their households when indoors. Based on research from the 2020 to 2021 school year, the CDC recommends that schools maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet (about 1 meter) between students in classrooms.
When this isn’t possible, other prevention strategies become more important.
Some schools also separate students into small groups and have each group stay together throughout the day (cohorting). This strategy can limit the number of students, teachers and staff who come into contact with each other. Cohorting is often used with small children, who have trouble maintaining physical distance.
Screening testing identifies people with COVID-19 who don’t have symptoms and who don’t have a known, suspected or reported exposure to COVID-19. This program identifies unknown cases of COVID-19 so schools can take steps to prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Schools vary in their use of screening testing and may change requirements based on the spread of COVID-19 in their communities. Some schools might routinely test all students and staff or just those who haven’t been fully vaccinated. Schools might also test students before allowing them to take part in certain activities.
Improving ventilation in schools can reduce the number of COVID-19 virus particles in the air. Opening multiple windows and doors, using fans, or changing the heating, ventilation, air conditioning or air filtration systems can help. During transportation to and from school, keeping windows open a few inches also can improve air circulation.
Schools and parents should encourage students to frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Children should cover their mouths and noses with an elbow or a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Children also should avoid touching their eyes, noses and mouths. To ensure thorough handwashing, kids can be taught to keep washing their hands until they have sung the entire “Happy Birthday” song twice (about 20 seconds).
Staying home when sick and getting tested
Students who have symptoms of an infectious illness should stay home from school and get tested for COVID-19. Possible symptoms of COVID-19 in children include:
- Cough that becomes productive
- Chest pain
- New loss of taste or smell
- Changes in the skin, such as discolored areas on the feet and hands
- Sore throat
- Nausea, vomiting, belly pain or diarrhea
- Muscle aches and pain
- Extreme fatigue
- New severe headache
- New nasal congestion
Everyone with COVID-19 should stay home and isolate from others for at least five full days. School policies might vary on when a child who has had COVID-19 can return to school.
Contact tracing is the process of identifying people who may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Depending on their vaccination status, people who’ve had close contact with someone with COVID-19 might need to take extra precautions. Contact tracing can help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
If your child’s school does contact tracing, make sure you understand what steps your child needs to take after a COVID-19 exposure.
Cleaning and disinfecting
Cleaning once a day is usually enough to remove germs from surfaces in schools.
Click here to read the full article from the Mayo Clinic.