Preparing to go back to school during COVID-19
Going back to school this year will be a challenge
Families and school districts are weighing difficult decisions on whether to return to school in person, online or a hybrid of the two during the COVID-19 pandemic. No matter which learning model is put in place, the school year is going to be challenging.
Schools and teachers are important in supporting student education, social development and mental health. Ultimately, how to participate in school will be a family decision, weighing all the factors in your specific circumstances — your own family’s health risks, the academic needs of your children, your work demands and, of course, the level of COVID-19 transmission in your community.
Below are some common sense tips for families with school age children that are already familiar and which continue to be the most effective ways we have to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread.
Certain strategies may be more effective for certain age groups of children. A combination of strategies is important because no single measure provides 100% protection from exposure.
Practice safe distancing
Whenever possible, follow safe social distancing of at least 6 feet, even when wearing a mask. Adhere to school policies when in-class, in school, and on school grounds.
Wear a face mask
Wear an approved face mask to limit the spread of respiratory droplets. Keep a clean backup mask somewhere convenient, like a backpack, locker or desk. Make sure to clearly label your child’s mask with his or her name, and teach children never to share or trade masks with others. For Government of Ontario guidelines on who should wear a face mask, where and how, visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/face-coverings-and-face-masks.
Clean your hands frequently
Wash your hands with soap and water, or apply and use hand sanitizer frequently. Cleaning hands regularly throughout the day is very important, especially before eating, after using the bathroom, or before and after touching shared surfaces or your mask.
For appropriate use of hand sanitizer, follow these steps:
- Apply one to two squirts of sanitizer to the palm of one hand ― enough to cover all surfaces of the hands.
- Rub the sanitizer over all the surfaces of hands, fingers and nails until dry. This should take at least 20 seconds.
- Keep a to-go size hand sanitizer container nearby.
Disinfect high-touch surfaces
Back at home, disinfect surfaces routinely and immediately if they become visibly soiled. Disinfect items frequently touched such as light switches, door handles, faucets and keyboards.
Perform symptom self-checks and stay home if sick
Every day before going to school, check for symptoms of illness, such as new-onset cough or shortness of breath. If you are sick, avoid spreading germs by staying home from school or other activities.
For the most current Government of Ontario COVID-19 updates and guidelines, or to download the COVID Alert Mobile App, visit https://covid-19.ontario.ca/.