Many schools are still drafting their reopening plans for the fall, leaving families waiting for answers to a number of questions. But the president of the Indiana Association of School Nurses (IASN) says, as families wait for the official word from schools, they can – and should – take time to prepare kids for returning to the classroom.
Andrea Tanner is a school nurse at New Albany Floyd County Schools and president of IASN.
She says right now is a good time for children to practice wearing masks – and how to properly take them off – since many schools may require them at some point.
"So that you're not exposing yourself to extra germs in the process of trying to protect yourself from germs," she said.
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She said families should prep things like routines for medication and access to health care providers too.
Tanner said with so many changes, it's also important for parents to share a positive outlook about going back to school with their kids, especially to help schools keep them – and staff – safe.
"The more that children might hear their parents speaking negatively about whatever their schools plan, is the more the student is going to bring that to school and have negative feelings and emotions about returning to schools," she said.
Families may also receive more contact from health and school officials than normal this school year, as they work to track and prevent the spread of COVID-19 this fall, and that's something Tanner said will likely be another adjustment for parents and families to make.
But schools still have plenty to figure out, especially for kids who may not have strong support systems or robust resources to access at home.
Tanner said the pandemic has already made clear inequities for families who rely on schools for a number of things, like internet access and meals. She said she worries about medical inequity, in addition to longstanding academic inequity.
"Now when we bring them back to school we have to be concerned about students who may not have a ride to get home when they start to display symptoms at school," Tanner said.
Tanner said she's been impressed by the collaboration between school leaders and officials as the pandemic has unfolded, and hopes it continues – with the involvement of families – as buildings reopen.