Tips for going back to school during the COVID-19 pandemic

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - eTradeWire -- With the school year underway in some places and fast approaching in others, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything about daily life, including the way children will return to the classroom and after-school activities.

Parents should begin building good hygiene habits as soon as possible, preferably before their children go back to school. It's important to review proper handwashing techniques and remind children to cover sneezes and coughs. Children also need to understand how to practice social distancing and wear a mask or face covering to protect themselves from getting or spreading COVID-19.

Not just superheroes wear masks

With schools preparing to reopen, Bethany Atkins, MD, pediatrician with Wolfson Children's Hospital and president of the Northeast Florida Pediatric Society, says now is the time to get kids comfortable with wearing a mask.

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"The most important thing parents and children need to know is that wearing a mask helps us to protect others and keeps us from spreading the disease," said Dr. Atkins. "You can make wearing a mask fun. Just as your child picks out a red shirt or a blue shirt, allow him or her to select the color or style of mask he or she wants to wear to school."

Parents should also encourage children to keep their fingers away from their face and to reach behind their ears if they need to adjust the mask. Children model good behavior, so Dr. Atkins says it's important for adults to set a good example and approach mask wearing as a normal activity that keeps everyone safe.

Keep up-to-date on well-child visits and vaccinations

Families are encouraged to continue bringing children to the doctor's office for annual well-child visits.

"Missing a well-child visit can put your child's health at risk," said Dr. Atkins. "Staying on schedule makes it possible to find medical or developmental problems at an early stage, in time to resolve them."

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Along with well-child visits, parents are encouraged not to miss or delay routine immunizations. Vaccines provide important protection against infections and keep children safe from many serious illnesses. According to Mobeen Rathore, MD, chief of pediatric infectious disease and immunology for Wolfson Children's Hospital of Jacksonville, there could be a resurgence of preventable diseases without vaccinations. Immunizations also prevent deadly diseases from spreading to others.

"We are concerned that if kids don't get their vaccinations, there may be an outbreak of a different disease down the road," said Dr. Rathore. "Parents shouldn't let COVID-19 keep them from taking their child to the pediatrician and getting the vaccines he or she needs for protection from preventable diseases like measles, mumps and rubella."

Source: Wolfson Children's Hospital
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