By Luigi Imbrogno, B.Sc., B.H.St.
Sending your little loved ones off to school is a stressful time for most parents, getting back to school shopping completed, adjusting bedtimes, organizing childcare, etc. Now more than ever however, parents and caregivers are faced with extremely worrisome media reports and updates on the Delta variant that is causing increased rates of infections in younger populations and those who are not vaccinated, making it much harder for parents to feel comfortable sending their children to school in large groups. Fret not however, with proper planning amongst your family there are numerous ways to reduce the risk.
First and foremost, it is scientifically proven that getting vaccinated prevents death and serious infection in those that catch COVID-19. So, the first step would be to ensure that yourself and your loved ones are vaccinated if they are over the age of 12 and are otherwise eligible.
When done properly, hand hygiene/cleaning is the greatest and most effective way to stop the spread of infectious disease-causing agents. It’s important that hands are either washed with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 70% alcohol. If hands are visibly soiled or dirty, then hand washing is required.
Proper hand hygiene may lull individuals into a sense of security and comfort so it’s very important that communication around avoiding touching the eyes, nose, and mouth are utilized as our hands touch hundreds of surfaces daily and touching our routes of entry into the body can result in the transfer of infectious material, causing sickness.
Some other great steps to take would be interacting with other individuals only when required, maintain physical distance when not in PPE, do not enter small spaces, and utilize cohorting so that your children are not going to events or play dates with other children they do not normally see at school.
Most importantly, talk to your kids! A simple conversation about how getting sick could cause someone vulnerable a great deal of pain and that wearing a mask and washing your hands is an excellent way to not only prevent themselves from getting sick but also others they care about.
Below are links to some resources to help you and your family in these difficult times. I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable return to school and I wish everyone well!
Luigi Imbrogno, B.Sc., B.H.St., is an Interim Professional Home Economist, Infection Control Professional, and Consultant