While school reopenings during the coronavirus pandemic have been plagued by pitfalls, a leading expert says there are ways you can help reduce the risk of your child getting sick. Dr. Holly Phillips, M.D., a board-certified internist and frequent guest on "The Dr. Oz Show," said returning to school is an important step for children — but safety measures need to be taken.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that "schools provide more than just academics to children and adolescents. In addition to reading, writing and math, children learn social and emotional skills, get exercise and access to mental health support and other things that cannot be provided with online learning." The organization's website contains a wealth of information on safety considerations for students and schools during the pandemic.
Phillips said that parents should expect big changes in the way schooling will be conducted. For example, many districts will stagger start and end times, teachers will move between classrooms, rather than students, and hallways will be made one-way to avoid crowding.
She offers guidelines and suggestions on how to safeguard your children. The first rule is to ensure they wear face masks.
"According to the AAP, the right fit is essential," she said. "Adult face coverings are usually too large for a snug fit on a child. A mask should securely cover the mouth and nose and tuck comfortably behind the ears."
Phillips added that masks should be washed and dried after every use. Face shields are another option and may be better for toddlers. They should be disinfected after each use with a virus-killing fluid that doesn't cloud up the shield.
"It's important that face shields are sized to provide complete coverage, from the forehead to a couple of inches below the chin," said the expert. While there is some debate over the effectiveness of different types of face coverings, Phillips said:
"Bear in mind that the most effective option is the one your child is most likely to use. So, let's help them cover up as comfortably as possible to stay safe."
Read some tips on helping children adjust to wearing a face mask.
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