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Well, it doesn’t look like it’s going to let us out. Now here we are at Back-to-School.
Just when things were starting to look a little hopeful a few weeks ago with the fight against this pandemic, this Delta variant is throwing us back to previous months with increased cases and hospitalizations, along with the precautions that come with it.
Mask mandates are being reconsidered. Social distancing is back on the table. And now school is starting again very soon all over the country.
Many are worried about the implications of this new variant on students. Many educational leaders are considering mask mandates for school districts. This is getting messy because some governors have issued orders prohibiting mask mandates.
Here in Texas, our governor issued an executive order prohibiting mask mandates. But that has not stopped parents from starting petitions asking school districts to require them. So we’ll see how that all plays out.
Some school districts are no longer offering virtual learning options for the upcoming school year. So parents are faced with decisions to make regarding their options for their children. Elementary school children are not eligible for vaccines yet. Some parents choose not to participate in the vaccine even if their children are eligible.
I no longer have any children in school, and I do not envy the position many parents are in as we face a new school year.
I thought I would put together a Back-To-School Checklist to help parents keep track of the many challenges they are about to face. Both in terms of school supplies and actions to take and contingency plans because this school year will undoubtedly require some flexibility.
Let’s start with Back-to-School Supplies:
- A washable backpack. Backpacks get nasty anyway but with this virus hanging on, you will want a backpack that you can wash regularly, or at least wipe down with a disinfectant.
- School supplies. I suspect communal school supplies are no longer a thing. I would get my child their own personal supplies of everything they need like crayons and glue, etc., and clearly mark them with the child’s name and store them in a pencil box or zip-lock bags.
- A good supply of disposable face masks. If your school district requires face masks, you will want to have a healthy supply on hand so that you can replace them each day.
- Pocket-size tissues. You can buy these in bulk and keep a supply in your child’s backpack.
- Single-serve snacks. Again, no communal eating will be going on. That really shouldn’t happen in any school year, but this year it’s a definite no. 🙂 Just keep a stash of favorites and let your child choose their favorite each day.
- Hand sanitizer. Your child will need hand sanitizer to carry with them, so get a travel-size bottle for them, and buy a large size with a pump to keep at home so that you can easily refill the small bottles.
- Disposable utensils. Keep a supply of disposable plates, cups, and utensils for school lunches.
- Antibacterial soap: It’s a good idea to have children get in the habit of washing their hands with antibacterial soap, changing their clothes, and showering when they get home each day.
- Disinfectant wipes: Keep individual packets of disinfectant wipes in backpacks and in your car to wipe down hands when needed.
- Hair ties: The CDC still recommends refraining from touching our faces, so a good supply of hair ties is a great idea to keep hair pulled back and off the face to lessen the need to touch our faces.
Some practices to put into place for Back-to-School:
- Vaccines: Whether or not your child is eligible for the current vaccine, it is a good idea to have other childhood vaccines up-to-date. Most school districts require this already.
- Personal hygiene: It is always a good idea to practice excellent hygiene, but never more important than now. Proper handwashing before and after eating. Or after sneezing or coughing.
- Precautions at school: Talk to your children about washing hands at school, social distancing, wearing their masks if required, and avoiding sharing food, drinks, snacks, and school supplies with other students. Remind them to continue their precautions on the school bus, too. It may be wise to limit playdates for a while when school starts, as well.
- School pick-up: If someone other than you picks up your child from school, make sure you are aware of their vaccination and/or testing status and daily risk of COVID-19.
- Contingency plan: We don’t know what this school year will bring. If there is a sharp rise in infections, school districts may make decisions to close for periods of time. You need to be ready if your child becomes ill and needs to quarantine or if the school closes suddenly. If you work outside of the home, discuss these possibilities with your employer in advance so that you are ready to accommodate the unexpected.
- Strengthen your immune system: This is something we should always be doing, but never more so than during a pandemic. Doctors have suggested that regularly taking a B complex vitamin, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Zinc can help strengthen our immune systems. So add these to your list!
I know the CDC has put out their share of confusing information over the past year, but if you are interested, the CDC website has articles to provide more information about preparing for Back-to-School. Just go to their website and type Back-to-School in the search bar.
This school year will most certainly be challenging as we all figure out how to conduct school activities while trying to finally be done with this virus. Or at least get it under control. So we all just have to stay vigilant, and have a plan. I hope these checklists have helped you begin to do that.
You can get a printable version of these checklists here. Just use the promo code BTS to get it for free!
If you have any other tips to help us all with school year plans, please feel free to share in the comments.
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