School is now back in session for most of the kids in Malaysia. But saying that parents are not worried about sending their children back to school would be a huge understatement, especially with the current COVID-19 situation in the country causing some schools to close back down again.
Based on researches by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, children are particularly vulnerable to contracting the virus from adults. However, since most of them show mild to no symptoms, asymptomatic transmission from an infected child to others is harder to trace.
Although respiratory physician Dr Norzila Mohamen Zainuddin reported that adult-to-child transmission of the virus is low, it still accounts for 2% of cases worldwide. Especially with kids now going back to school, it’s harder for parents to monitor exactly who their child came into contact with, when, and where.
Nonetheless, here are a few tips for you on keeping your child safe as they go back to school.
1. Invest in a good facemask
Photo by Freepik
There was a meme going around social media joking about what if parents sent their kids to school in a Spiderman mask and he came back with an Iron Man mask after trading with a friend.
On the contrary, if your child is a die-hard Pokemon fan and you buy them a Pikachu mask, we’re pretty sure that your child will take great care not to lose it or ‘trade it with a friend’. Disposable masks work fine too, but it might cause a bit of confusion or mix-up, such as after recess.
As long as you make sure that the mask meets the required standards, fits them well, and they can breathe comfortably through the fabric, your child is ready and good to go.
2. Daily temperature checks
Check your child’s temperature every day, before and after school. You need to monitor your child’s temperature and make sure they aren’t showing any signs of fever or other symptoms before sending them to school.
In one way, it’s to protect other children from getting sick; in the other, it’s also to prevent your child from getting sick due to their weakened immunity. Also, the sooner you know exactly when your child starts showing symptoms, the faster they can be checked for the virus. Besides, it makes it easier for contact tracing as well.
3. Soap flakes, wet wipes, and hand sanitisers
Photo by Freepik
It’s easy to cultivate constant hand-washing habits if you start at home. It also helps if you explain why it’s so important to maintain their hygiene after going out and touching exposed surfaces in school.
Besides teaching them the correct way to wash their hands (while singing ‘Happy Birthday’), always equip them with a bottle of hand sanitiser, antibacterial wet wipes, and soap flakes for whenever they need it at school. You can easily purchase these items online or in pharmacies.
4. Let them bring their own food
While there aren’t any studies that prove COVID-19 can be transmitted through food, it’s still in your child’s best interest to stay away from the school canteen as much as they can to avoid the crowds and any possible close contact with others.
To add on to that, it’s probably a lot cheaper and healthier for you to be preparing your child’s food for the day. This way, you can monitor your child’s nutrition intake and ensure that they are getting the vitamins and minerals they need to maintain a stronger immune system. Besides, who wouldn’t love a warm, homemade meal at school every day?
5. Avoid taking the school bus if possible
While there are safety measures and guidelines to provide safe and sanitary transportation for schoolchildren, parents can never be too careful. If you have the time and means to do it, it would always be best for you to be the one ferrying your child to school and back.
Of course, this does not mean that children who take the school bus are at a higher risk of contracting the virus than the others for sure. It just means that they need to be more aware of their surroundings and be cautious about coming into physical contact with others.
6. Shower as soon as they get home
As discussed earlier, younger children usually don’t show symptoms even if they are carrying the virus, but this makes them potentially dangerous ‘super spreaders’ — they just might accidentally bring it home without knowing it.
The best way to mitigate that risk? Dispose of the used mask every day (or wash and disinfect it if it’s reusable fabric). Then, have them take a good, warm shower and focus especially on washing high infection-risk areas like the hair, face, and arms.
Remember that the virus can still remain in the air and on surfaces for up to 3 hours, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Thorough cleaning, hand-washing, and sanitisation are still key to staying safe and healthy.
Let’s all do our part to mitigate the spread of the virus to our loved ones and our community.