Back to school is always bittersweet. As your little ones continue to grow up and now tackle a new grade, health, happiness and safety is top of mind. If your child will be in classrooms with other people instead of learning online at home, here are a few tips for a safe and secure kick off to the school year.

  • Stock up on personal protection supplies: Make sure your child has hand sanitizer in both the lunchbox and school bag. Use disinfectant wipes on frequently touched surfaces at home and at school, and give that very important hand hygiene speech to help prevent the spread of germs. Due to COVID-19, some schools will require or encourage masks; make sure the mask covers your child’s nose and mouth entirely. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends face coverings for all children 2 years old and older.
  • Help children adjust to wearing a mask before they have to do it every day in school. “Ease into it,” says Bridget K. McCabe, MD, MPH, FAAP, medical director of clinical quality and informatics for Teladoc Health. “Make sure they get used to the masks and are comfortable.” Tell them when to put on a new mask, and show them how to throw away the old one. You’ll also want to prepare them for what they’ll experience with social distancing when they’re in public.
  • Give them a hand-washing reminder. Dr. McCabe suggests placing a cute, water-soluble stamp (such as a smiley face, star or favorite fictional character) on the back of the child’s hand, with the goal of the stamp fading away—because of proper hand washing—by the end of the day.
  • Explain that physical activities may be different. Guidelines may be modified for close-contact sports such as basketball, football and hockey. For example, masks and protective eyewear may be required, and competition schedules may be shortened, Dr. McCabe adds.
  • Create an ICE entry: If your child has a cell phone without a designated place to enter emergency contact information, create a phone directory entry titled “ICE,” which stands for “In Case of Emergency.” Include contact information for yourself, your spouse or partner, and anyone who is authorized to pick up your child from school. You may want to match the names to driver’s licenses because schools commonly use them for ID. If your child doesn’t have a cell phone, write or print this information on brightly colored paper, seal it in a sandwich bag and staple it inside the child’s backpack.
  • Corral your chargers: Do the electronic device chargers in your house grow legs and scramble away when you’re not looking? Try conquering the charger crisis with an all-in-one charging station. Some can handle a cell phone, set of ear buds and a watch at the same time; each member of the family can have one. (Oh, and keep a couple sets of charging cables and portable chargers in your glove compartment for when kids climb in the car with dead phones after school.) A solid charging plan will help ensure your kids can reach you—and vice versa—if an emergency occurs.
  • Stock your own Dr. Mom and Nurse Dad first-aid kit: When children get sniffles and coughs, you don’t want to have to hunt all over the house for aspirin and nasal sprays. Get a uniquely patterned lockable case or box and use it to store over-the-counter standards such as pain relievers, decongestants, cough suppressants, antihistamines, sore throat lozenges and antidiarrheal tablets. Write expiration dates prominently on each product package and replace the products as needed. If you don’t have one already, get a smart thermometer that stores data for multiple family members. (Fun tip: The Kinsa® thermometer syncs to the Teladoc app!)
  • Download the award-winning Teladoc app: We’re your new house call! Be sure to add eligible family members so that everyone has 24/7 access to board-certified physicians whether they’re at home or at school. We’re also available by web and phone to help you save the wait in a doctor’s office or a trip to urgent care. With Teladoc, you can get fast, quality care for common school-time ailments such as flu, seasonal allergies, sinus infections, lice, rashes, sprains and more!

As we approach an uncertain school year, you can be certain of one thing: Your family can count on us. Reach out any time you have a non-emergency health concern and our U.S. board-certified physicians will support you back to good health. Here’s hoping the kiddos have a great year!

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