(BPRW) COVID, Kids and School: Seven Simple Steps to Stay Safe

(Black PR Wire) Around this time last year, the coronavirus pandemic kept Florida schools closed and forced students to continue their virtual learning from home. Now, with another school year underway, COVID-19 remains an uninvited guest in classrooms across the state. And with the Delta variant resulting in a record number of cases and hospitalizations, experts say young students returning to school this fall are at as much risk of contracting the virus as they were last year – maybe even more.

“The Delta variant is a game-changer because it is very transmissible,” says Tina Carroll-Scott, MD, medical director of the South Miami Children’s Clinic, which is supported by the South Miami Hospital. “More children are infected and require intensive care this time around. We are even seeing infants with COVID-19. “

Dorsey Goosby, MD, director of medical information technology for Baptist Health and a pediatric specialist for over 40 years, echoes Dr. Carroll-Scott’s assessment. “About 25% of all COVID cases we see now are pediatric patients, and a lot of those kids end up on ventilators,” he says. “Pediatric hospitals everywhere are at full capacity. “

To complicate matters, some people are reluctant to get vaccinated or wear a mask, says Dr. Goosby. “Social distancing, masking, and hand washing are all helpful, but the vaccines themselves have been shown to be incredibly effective in keeping people from going to the hospital,” he said.

The most important thing you can do, says Dr Goosby, is to stay informed by getting essential information from trusted sources. “Don’t get your medical news on TV,” he advises. “For the most accurate and up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit the website of the CDC, the Florida Department of Health, or the American Academy of Pediatrics.” Or, he says, just ask your doctor or pediatrician. “They keep up to date with all the latest developments and know your or your child’s health better than anyone.”

Now that the kids are finally back to school and the Pfizer vaccine has received full FDA approval, Dr. Carroll-Scott says that as adults and parents, “we have a responsibility to do the right thing.” and help keep them at school. “It means getting the vaccine if you or your child is eligible, and making masking and other mitigation strategies part of everyone’s daily routine,” she says. Dr Carroll-Scott believes COVID-19 vaccines will be approved by the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for children five to 11 years old within a month or so, and possibly next year. for children under five.

In the meantime, what steps can you take to avoid exposure to COVID-19 and keep your child healthy this school year? David Mishkin, MD, Emergency Medicine Specialist at Baptist Health, offers these seven simple steps to keep COVID-19 out of the classroom:

  1. Choose a good mask. According to the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), your mask should have at least two layers of washable, breathable fabric; completely cover your nose and mouth; fits perfectly to the sides of your face with no gap and has a nasal thread to prevent air from escaping from the top of the mask. The CDC says to avoid masks that are too loose, as well as those with an exhalation valve, and to wash the masks daily.
  • Double. Send your child to school with at least one extra mask, in case one gets lost or gets dirty. Label the masks so that they are not mistaken for those of another child. (Bonus: if you mark the masks on the outside, it helps the teacher learn your child’s name and recognize it faster.) Provide your child with a resealable plastic bag to store their soiled mask.
  • Attention coach. Talk to your child about the importance of physical distancing and remind them not to share food, drinks, electronics, school supplies, or other items. While they may be happy to see their friends, now is not the time for cuddles or greetings. And be a good role model – if the adults in your child’s life often wash their hands, stay at least six feet from each other, and wear their masks in public spaces, then children are more likely to do the same. .
  • Stop the spread. Keep your child home if they show signs of illness. Check each morning to make sure they don’t have a sore throat or other signs of illness, such as cough, diarrhea, severe headache, vomiting, or body aches. If your child has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, or has recently been in close contact with a case of COVID-19, they shouldn’t be going to school, even if they seem to be doing well.
  • Establish a routine at home. After months of distance learning and the summer break, many children can probably find it difficult to return to a more structured environment. Be patient, but consistent. Keeping a regular schedule for bedtime, meals, and other family activities gives your child a sense of control, predictability, calm, and well-being.
  • Help educate your child. If you’re not a parent who typically engages with your child’s school, now might be a good time to start. Chat or email the teacher if you have specific concerns about how your child is adjusting. And stay informed, as conditions can change quickly. Check out your school district’s website, sign up to receive notifications, or join a school-related social media group to stay on top of things.
  • Go get help if you need it. Most children will do well with the support of their families, even if they show signs of anxiety, such as difficulty sleeping or concentrating. Some children, however, may have risk factors for more intense reactions, including severe anxiety or depression. Parents and guardians should contact a professional if children exhibit significant behavioral changes.

Even if your child takes every precaution to stay safe at school, warns Dr. Mishkin, there is still a possibility that they will be exposed to another student, teacher or staff member who has COVID-19 and does not know it. not even. If you suspect your child has COVID, Dr. Mishkin suggests scheduling an emergency pediatric care visit through the Baptist Health Care On Demand app.

“A virtual visit with one of our doctors through Baptist Health Care On Demand is an easy and convenient way to get initial advice on your child’s symptoms,” says Dr. Mishkin. “If these symptoms warrant further evaluation, they may refer you to a nearby Baptist Health emergency care center or express emergency care center for diagnosis and treatment. If hospitalization is required, he adds, young patients are in excellent hands at Baptist Health, which partners with Nicklaus Children’s Hospital for pediatric admissions in the Miami area.

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