Preventing the spread of COVID-19 is an important topic on parents’ minds this back-to-school season. Working together to prevent illness is vital during this unprecedented period for public health and some simple steps can go a long way in mitigating the potential for illness.
Staff at child care facilities, in schools and at other community settings are implementing new measures based on best practices from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help reduce community spread. While extra sanitation is helpful in all settings, fostering good hygiene habits starts at home and can be practiced in families’ daily routines.
Show children how to wash their hands properly. Model the recommended technique: demonstrate by wetting hands, scrubbing soap to a foamy lather and scrubbing all surfaces of hands for at least 40 seconds in hot water. Singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice can be a good way to make sure you’ve spent enough time at the sink. Explain how washing our hands helps rinse away illness-causing germs with this short video from “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” on PBS Kids.
Washing your hands is an ideal first defense against germs. Hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol can be an acceptable substitute if soap and water are not available. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently recalled more than 75 varieties of hand sanitizer products due to the presence of methanol, which can lead to poisoning. Check the list of recalled brands here.
It is possible to spread COVID-19 without showing any symptoms yourself. Limit contact with others and postpone visits to elderly relatives or individuals with underlying health conditions who are considered most at risk of complications if they become sick. Stay at least six feet away from other people who do not live in your household.
Masks are recommended for all children ages 3 and up to help slow the spread of COVID-19 when social distancing is not possible. Although a mask may not keep your child from getting sick, it can help limit exposure for others if she or he is ill but not showing symptoms.
Improve overall wellness by offering a healthy variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Limit sugar intake, which contributes to childhood obesity. Set an example by trying new foods together.
Follow the age-appropriate vaccine schedule recommended by your pediatrician, which is in keeping with federal guidelines. Do not skip your child’s regular well child checks and other routine medical visits.
Do not attend school or child care if you show any symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, sore throat or loss of your sense of smell or taste. Also avoid other people if they are showing these or other symptoms.
“Because travel increases your chances of getting infected and spreading COVID-19, staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from getting sick,” the CDC website states in regard to its recommendation to postpone travel plans. Quarantine orders in other states and countries may also affect your ability to travel at this time.
Sanitize high-touch surfaces daily: Doorknobs, handles, light switches, tables, chairs, countertops, sinks and soap bottles are considered some of the high-touch areas commonly found in households that should be cleaned every day. Other frequently-accessed areas like car steering wheels, seatbelts and child seats may also need to be disinfected regularly.
Wash items in the warmest possible water and allow them to dry thoroughly. The CDC website lists special consideration for children’s items like stuffed animals, which should be laundered frequently according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Find the latest COVID-19 guidance especially for families with children here.
PBS Kids offers a helpful series entitled “How to Talk to Your Kids about the Coronavirus” with links to some of their favorite characters on topics like how germs spread, ways to stay healthy and good hygiene habits. Find it here.
Rainbow Fleet will continue to offer tips for parents and child care providers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Our first concern is always children’s health, safety and wellbeing. Take care of yourself and check back for more tips.