How parents can help protect kids from the coronavirus when schools reopen

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CBS — Cities and states across the country are grappling with how to reopen schools as coronavirus cases continue to climb in many places.

New York City plans to reopen schools in September, but all students may not be able to go in every day, the mayor said. Florida, meanwhile, has ordered schools to reopen in August for all students five days a week.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is advocating for in-person learning but recommends flexible policies that can be adapted depending on the level of transmission in the local area. The group has released guidance to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in schools. The guidance varies depending on the age of the students, but includes wearing masks, placing desks 3 to 6 feet apart when feasible, and using outdoor spaces.

Parents can also take steps to help reduce the risk of the virus at their children’s schools. Dr. Dyan Hes, a pediatrician in New York City, offered the following tips for parents on CBSN: 

Have your child wear a mask

“If your child could tolerate wearing a mask, you should really have them go to school with a mask,” she said. But she admitted that this may be difficult for young children especially. 

“The minimum that we ask is that the teachers wear masks,” she added. “It’s more the teachers that are shedders than the students giving it to the teachers.”

Give them disinfectant wipes 

“I really think that you should send your child to school with Clorox wipes or Wet Ones and teach them how they can clean their desk,” she said. 

Change clothes as soon as they get home

“When your kids come home from school, you should have them undress at the door and wash all their clothes as best as you can,” Hes said. 

She also suggested leaving their shoes outside.

Get washable backpacks

Hes said it may be a good idea to wash your child’s backpack every day because it’s possible droplets from an infected individual could land on them.

Wash hands

Make sure your children are washing their hands and send them to school with hand sanitizer, Hes said. 

“I always say that the little kids — when they learn to wash their hands in school, sometimes they wash them so much that they get irritated and eczema, so checking your kids’ skin to make sure there’s no cracks from washing so frequently and moisturizing well, maybe putting Vaseline on their hands at night,” she said. 

If your child is sick, keep them home 

“If your child is sick, remotely sick, you have to keep them home. You cannot send them to school,” Hes stressed. “Everything can be a symptom of COVID: diarrhea, cough, stomach ache, headache.”

She said to contact your health care provider if your child has any symptoms. 

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