After the strangest academic year in recent memory, most kids are eagerly anticipating the first day of a new school year. Many months after Covid-19 became a threat, however, the pandemic still looms large over our daily lives. As we pick out school supplies, it’s also time to buckle down on practical health and safety measures.
With new variants of Covid-19 quickly spreading, the first line of defense for eligible patients should be vaccination. The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics urge all adults and children over age 12 to get fully immunized by the start of school year. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer or Moderna) vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson’s). Currently, the only vaccine approved for adolescents ages 12-17 is the Pfizer option, but trials are underway for patients as young as 6 months.
For children unable to receive a vaccine, the AAP continues to recommend masking and social distancing protocols. While children are less likely to become seriously ill from Covid-19, they can have mild symptoms that indicate an infection. To protect your family and others, consider checking your child’s temperate before they begin the school day. Any fever over 100.4 is reason to stay home and call your pediatrician.
“Many kids have unalarming symptoms of Covid-19, such as low fever, stomach upset, or even a skin rash,” says Dr. Patrick Hynes at Prospect Pediatrics. “When in doubt, call your doctor’s office to get an opinion or make an appointment to be tested. It’s better to know for sure, so you can make informed decisions about returning to school without putting others at risk. Doing so also sets a good example for kids about addressing their health responsibly.”
If your child tests positive for Covid-19 at any point during the year, alert your school right away even if they are asymptomatic. Not only do schools have specific guidelines for when to return and how to complete work in quarantine, your school district also uses data about confirmed cases to guide their policy decisions.
Beyond the strain of routine safety, some kids may also feel anxiety around returning to school. Mental wellness across every age group has been heavily affected by the pandemic, and the battle is far from over. Even if your child isn’t worried about contracting the virus, they may be overwhelmed by entering a new grade or even an entirely new building after a year that was, at minimum, partially online. Check in with your family members’ emotional well-being each day and let them know their concerns are valid.
Finally, maintain your child’s well visit schedule to keep them current on routine vaccines, physical examinations, and behavioral screenings.
Everyone at ONE Pediatrics wishes your family a healthy, happy school year!