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Health and hygiene tips for children returning to school after lockdown

The school year in 2020 was unprecedented. Schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and learners, as well as their teachers and parents, had to adjust to online schooling. However, now that lockdown restrictions have eased and with the roll-out of the effective COVID-19 vaccine, schools around the country are reopening to meet the educational, social and emotional needs of learners. Bloom Financial Services offers affordable health insurance plans through its partner, Momentum, and they discuss some of the steps you can take to keep your child safe when they return to school after lockdown.

Why returning to school is good for your child’s mental health

2020 was an isolating year for children, which may have had a negative impact on their mental health. This is why returning to school is an excellent step for promoting good mental health in children. The school system provides more than academic instruction. Besides all the reading, writing and arithmetic, it’s the place where children can interact with their peers, learn social and emotional skills, get exercise and develop a support network. However, it must be noted that there are safety measures that must be put in place to ensure your child’s safety and to reduce their risk of infection.

Safety tips for kids returning to school

Depending on your circumstances and the area in which you live, some schools have opted for in-person learning while others have adopted a hybrid school system that includes both distance and in-person schooling. The one thing most concerned parents ask is “how can I keep my child safe at school during COVID?”

What the school can do?

1. Social distancing techniques at school.

The World Health Organisation recommends keeping a distance of at least two metres of space between people in order to reduce the risk of infection. In order to achieve this, schools may have to rearrange classrooms by spacing out desks or even reducing classroom sizes.

2. Disinfecting and cleanliness.

Schools will be taking extra precautions when it comes to cleaning surfaces that your children and their teachers come into contact with, like desks, doorknobs, library books, sports equipment and lunch tables. Schools should provide hand sanitiser at certain checkpoints. Otherwise, teachers may dispense sanitiser directly to their students, especially if they’re still in primary or nursery school.

3. Health screening checks

Schools may periodically screen children for symptoms of COVID-19 as an extra precaution or if there has been a recent outbreak at the school. This could include temperature checks and a simple survey.

What can you teach your child about COVID safety?

Empower your child with knowledge so that they can keep themselves safe from the virus. Take the time to explain the importance of certain safety measures and procedures, the most important being to wear a mask and to keep their hands clean.

1. Wearing a mask

It is compulsory to wear a mask in public in South Africa. Failure to do so could even result in arrest. However, your child may not understand the importance of wearing a mask, which could mean they don’t wear it properly. Explain that wearing a mask prevents them from catching the virus, provided they wear their mask at all times. The mask needs to cover both their nose and their mouth, and they should never swap masks with any of their classmates. Pack a spare, back-up mask in their school bag just in case.

2. Keeping your hands clean

Explain the importance of handwashing to your child. You can illustrate this by practising handwashing techniques at home. Use soap and water and wash for at least 20 seconds. In addition to this, explain why they shouldn’t be touching their nose, mouth or eyes. Encourage your child to wash their hands at school frequently. Pack a bottle of hand sanitiser in your child’s school bag so they can get into a routine of sanitising their hands regularly.

Stay at home if you’re sick!

This goes without saying, but please keep your child at home and contact the school urgently if they display any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Runny nose or nasal congestion
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhoea
  • Flu-like symptoms

Here’s what you can do if your child is exposed to COVID-19

If you believe your child has been exposed to COVID-19, there is a plan of action you can take. Be prepared and have a list of emergency contact information ready so you can call for advice. Arrange to have a COVID-19 test and keep your child self-isolated and quarantined for the period recommended by the health department, which is currently 10-14 days.

What else can you do to protect your child?

Keep your child’s immune system strong and healthy. Make sure their vaccinations are all up-to-date. Bloom’s Health4Me Gold, Silver and Bronze health insurance plans all cover an annual influenza shot to reduce your risk of infection.

Children who are at high-risk for infection

Be advised that some children may be more at risk than others for the coronavirus. This means that parents need to be particularly vigilant about their hygiene safety. Any child with a weak immune system or who suffers from medical problems, like asthma or diabetes will be a high-risk candidate.

It is also worth noting that your children may inadvertently bring the virus into your home, which could prove quite tragic if you have any high-risk family members, like a grandparent, living with you. This is why it’s so important to teach your child the importance of taking all these health and safety precautions seriously so that they can keep themselves and their family members safe.

Keep safe and get health insurance cover with Momentum Health4Me

We all want the best for our children so naturally, we want to keep them safe during this challenging time. Momentum Health4Me is an excellent choice for health insurance coverage and will ensure you have access to quality healthcare services. Get day to day health insurance cover from Bloom. Contact our offices to make an appointment with one of our trained brokers and get a free quote for health insurance prices and plans.

It is also worth noting that your children may inadvertently bring the virus into your home, which could prove quite tragic if you have any high-risk family members, like a grandparent, living with you. This is why it’s so important to teach your child the importance of taking all these health and safety precautions seriously so that they can keep themselves and their family members safe.

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You understand and acknowledge that all users of the Bloom Financial Services website are responsible for their own medical care, treatment, and oversight. All content provided on the website, is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Neither is it intended to be a substitute for an independent professional medical opinion, judgement, diagnosis or treatment.