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Keven Moore: Steps parents can take to protect their students from COVID-19 as schools reopen

As politicians and local school districts debate if and when to return students to school for the 2020-2021 school year, many parents are left wondering what to do to prepare and protect their children from those they will come in contact with while attending school.

NKU Moving In Day

Regardless of what side of the fence you fall on this debate of opening back up schools, it is inevitable parents will have to eventually be faced with returning their kids to school despite whatever the level of risk may be, and they have to be prepared.

As a safety and risk management professional the logistics of such a decision is mind-blowing to me especially when you go down the path of what-ifs. With that magical age of 60 and older at-risk category on the horizon, I follow all the social distancing guidelines suggested by the CDC and state officials. I have been wearing a mask since the beginning of February, back when my two cases of surgical masks arrived before the shortage began the week after.

But I refuse to live in fear and have been getting out in public ever since the restrictions started to be lifted, but I do follow all the social distancing guidelines. This week my daughter returned to the University of Kentucky for her senior year and after reviewing all the precautions that they are taking; I am not worried in the least.

Many parents still may be worried about this back to school transition, and I would suggest that you follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines to ensure safety for children and to get back to living your lives. It’ will be important for parents to reinforce those standards as well with their students.

UK’s Wildcat in a mask.

While some schools and universities are opting for remote learning or a new hybrid of in-person and online sessions, other districts are pushing ahead with in-person classes – with proper social distancing and sanitation protocols, of course. Those schools are marking their hallways, classrooms, entrances, cafeterias . . .etc. with social distancing markings, appointing COVID-19 program coordinators, and reducing the size of classes to best meet the pandemic-era school experience.

In addition to completing your back-to-school shopping parents are going to have to add a few additional items to that list such as hand sanitizer, face masks, and maybe even some gloves.

While most schools will take your student’s temperature at the door, parents should still make it a ritual to take the student’s temperature before leaving to go to school. It is best to make sure that your child does not have a fever before they ever enter school property, and to save time parents should invest in a temporal thermometer with usually priced between $30-$60 online.

Kids, in general, are less symptomatic, but that also means they can be super-spreaders of the COVID-19. In other words, they can come back home as carriers of COVID-19 and not even know it, and no one around them knows it.
To prepare students they must be resourceful, and the goal is to reduce sharing in the classroom as much as possible. Every student should be equipped with their own set of school supplies for the classroom because schools will not be able to provide communal supplies of basics like pencils, pens, highlighters, etc. due to the need to prevent the spread of the virus.

Every student should have their own hand sanitizer and parents should make sure you get them a 60% or higher alcohol-based hand sanitizer, which kills most types of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Some schools are offering contact-free cafeteria food, but to avoid standing in social distant lines, you can reduce your students’ risk of COVID-19 by packing their lunch every morning. Health experts are suggesting that you ditch the reusable lunch boxes or lunch coolers for a disposable brown bag because it’s more sanitary and can be thrown away afterward.

As a healthy reminder, you may want to suggest that your students practice handwashing at every transition of the day. For instance, they should try to wash their hands whenever they leave the house, arrive at school, switch classrooms, go to the lunchroom, go to the restrooms, get back on the bus and return home.

Keven Moore works in risk management services. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky, a master’s from Eastern Kentucky University and 25-plus years of experience in the safety and insurance profession. He is also an expert witness. He lives in Lexington with his family and works out of both Lexington and Northern Kentucky. Keven can be reached at kmoore@roeding.com

If you are concerned about students riding the bus, parents have the option to drive their students to and from school, or they could even walk or ride their bikes to school.

To promote buy-in for face coverings, parents should buy a washable cloth facemask that expresses your student’s personality, favorite team, musical group, cartoon, …etc. but remember to adhere to the school’s guidelines on expression. Schools are suggesting that students ditch disposable masks because they can be easily mixed up with other students wearing disposable masks.

If parents or other family members may be compromised, you may want to consider having your students change clothes and take a bath when they return from school.

Parents should be teaching their students that masks are important for protecting other people more than themselves because the great thing about younger students is that they’re “inherently empathetic and selfless.

Older students will have a tendency to sometimes not follow the rules especially in their teenage years, but parents should still try to emphasize the importance of protecting the vulnerable, even if this means skipping other student gatherings. They just can’t go to a friend’s house where a small or large gathering of friends may be, it’s not what is best for the community and that has to be stressed daily. It’s an unusual school year this year, but it a small sacrifice to live by so that we can keep schools open once they are opened back up.

Be Safe My Friends

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