School And Play With COVID-19June 17 2020
Every parent in the country with school-aged children is dreaming of the day when they and their kids can get back something that looks like what we all considered to be normal - getting the kids up and ready to take the bus or be dropped off in front of a bustling main entrance with dozens or even of unmasked other kids streaming through the doors to start another day of learning. But, it seems highly unlikely that this kind of scene will be in any of our futures for a long time to come. Still, since it's largely been decided by the powers that be, that we cannot or will not abandon the idea of putting our kids back into school or, over the summer, into group activities like camps, we will have to do it with a keen eye toward safety.
For many, this will be difficult as schools were shut down months ago and a whole new routine had to be developed for dealing with the needs of children at home. Still, studies have shown that many children were largely able to thrive in the home environment if they were able to be given the proper tools and support. For instance, the best prepared and, let's face it, luckiest families had the resources to offer children an environment that gave them physical safety, emotional support, and the means to keep their education largely on track.
Some of the key elements to this approach has been found to include such strategies as keeping children on a schedule that keeps their minds focused on the fact that learning is an important part of their day just as it has always been. To accomplish this the most successful parents have required that their kids go to bed at a regular time and that they get up at a scheduled time, as well. This, followed with a day that has a schedule focused on their educational needs as well as other concerns such as appropriate playtime, has been shown to create an environment that reduces anxiety in children and helps them focus on what they will need to know whenever they can return to an environment and schedule that they are more accustomed to.
Coronavirus And Kids
Our children are the most important thing in this world to parents so safeguarding them during this crisis has to be mission one.
When the spread of the coronavirus first hit the country in the early part of 2020 no one really understood just what it was or how we, as a country should handle it. At that time the only thing to do was shut down pretty much everything that wasn't essential or that put large groups of people into close contact. Of course, this meant the closing of schools and that meant that many millions of kids were going to need to be sent to homes where, the hope was, that someone would be there to take care of them.
This was a frightening time as parents had very few good answers for all of the questions that were being asked by their children. No one really knew what being safe meant beyond just staying indoors and away from others. But the problems didn't stop there. And, as adults struggled to know if they would be able to continue working or how they would be able to do it, they suddenly found that they had children who were suddenly sitting at home and wondering how they were going to deal with the new world that they had been thrust into.
The good news is that most children were able to continue their education at home with the help of the school system providing them with some lesson plans and some resources that would allow the kids to keep advancing in their studies until a better option became available.
Reopening For The Kids
Now that we have a better understanding of how the virus spreads and how to protect ourselves when among other people, we now have some guidelines that give us the opportunity to start making plans for creating social activities and interactions that will allow kids to get back to something that feels a little more normal. This is leading many school districts and the operators of camp and other activity centers the means to create systems that will allow for children to engage in these activities which are so much a part of their normal lives.
This may not be the summer we were all hoping for but there will still be a lot of reasons to smile.
There are more than fourteen thousand facilities across the United States which fall into the category of summer camps for children. Some of these normally operate as overnight destinations and become the home for hundreds of thousands of children for weeks at a time during the summer season. Going back to early May there were a lot of discussions among the operators of these institutions as they tried to figure out whether or not they could open at all. Some have chosen not to open their doors for this year but many others have chosen to do so. One of the main concerns was that failing to open might mean that they would never open their doors again if they did not. For these facilities, the question then became how they would be able to function given the safety concerns surrounding the coronavirus. For some, the answer would eventually be that they would test all children and staff before leading them into isolated environments which would, presumably, prevent any increased need for social distancing or the wearing of masks while contained within this natural bubble.
Other entities, which could not utilize this method devised methods that included smaller sized groups of children and the use of social distancing practices. The bottom line was that many camps offering a wide variety of activities have opened and are even offering virtual experiences in order to provide services. Ultimately, these offerings will help many children and their parents the chance to salvage much of the summer season that so many of us depend on for a number of reasons.
Back To School
No matter what the rules are when students return we can all be sure that protective masks will be one thing that is mandatory.
Building on the challenges that summer camps have faced, many school districts are well on their way to finalizing plans for the return to classes for millions of children across the country. To do this many regional school districts are looking at some of the models that have been introduced in other countries that have already opened their school systems without any significant spread of the coronavirus. As helpful as that may be to a certain degree most of these countries had never had the level of infection that the United States is experiencing. And, since the spread of the virus in the United States is continuing to grow in many areas of the country which were not part of the initial wave, it may be that the data and practices of these of countries may not turn out to be all that helpful when it's time to go back to school in this country. That said many school districts are pushing forward with plans largely drawn up based on the best information available from our own Centers for Disease Control.
One of the key points in many of the plans is that there will be no attempts to reopen schools prior to the fall of 2020. Even then, the plans will likely revolve around two to four-week rolling closures in order to limit the spread of the virus. Further, they plan to keep any students or staff who have indicators of higher risk from being open to any exposure. Additional measures would require daily temperature checks on all persons entering the schools and continuous evaluation of procedures in order to confront any significant changes in the level of infections within the greater population of that region.
The Final Decision
The decisions about how and when schools will return to class will be up to more than just the school boards across the country.
It must be pointed out that no matter what any regional school system has planned for the next year of classes, those plans could all fall by the wayside if federal or state level officials decide that these proposed plans are insufficient. The thing to remember at this point is that the United States is experiencing a marked increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 in twenty-two states which are mostly in the southern and southwestern regions of the country. These states, which had avoided the early outbreaks to a large degree will have to find ways to combat the spread in order to reach a position where the number of infections is declining for at least two weeks and where hospital capacity is large enough to absorb the number of cases that would statistically come about.
Protecting Your Child
Some things may be beyond your control but a suitable protective mask for your child is not one of them.
No matter what happens with camps and other activities during the summer and with schools in the fall, there is no doubt that having your child observe proper safety techniques such as social distancing when possible and the use of high-quality masks will be critical in protecting them and allowing them to live a fairly normal life until we have a vaccine that will finally put the threat of COVID-19 behind us for good.For more information on high-quality masks for children, click here.