Back to School Safely

COVID-19 and Children

Scientists are still learning about how it spreads, how it affects children, and what role children may play in its spread. Evidence and information about transmission (the way germs move from person to person) of COVID-19 to children is relatively limited. However, the more individuals a person interacts with, and the longer the interaction, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spread.

Some children may be at increased risk of getting COVID-19 or may be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Parents and caregivers may need to take additional precautions for these children.

Staying Healthy Throughout the School Year

This year, schools and families will need to work together even more than before. Teachers and staff can teach and encourage preventive behaviors at school. Likewise, families should emphasize and model healthy behaviors at home.

  • Familiarize yourself with the school’s COVID-19 plan.
  • Identify your school’s point person to contact if you child gets sick.
  • Be familiar with local COVID-19 testing sites that offer testing for children.
  • Make sure your child’s vaccinations are up to date.
  • Review and practice proper hand hygiene.
  • Keep up with your state’s vaccination phase to see if your child is eligible to get a vaccine. TN; AR; MS

Even if your child is attending school in person, it is important to prepare for the possibility of virtual learning if school closes or if your child becomes exposed to COVID-19 and needs to stay home.

Masks and face coverings

Appropriate and consistent use of masks may be challenging for some children. Wearing masks should be a priority when it is difficult for students to stay 6 feet apart from one another (e.g., during carpool drop off or pick up, when entering the building or standing in line at school, or while on the bus).

  • Have multiple masks so you can wash them after each use.
  • Label your child’s masks clearly.
  • Practice putting on and removing masks with your child.
  • As a family, model good behavior by wearing masks.

Caring for Your Child’s Emotional/Social Well-being

The school experience will be very different for your child, with desks far apart from each other, teachers maintaining physical distance, and the possibility of staying in the classroom for lunch. Explain to your child that these changes will help keep everyone safe and healthy.

  • Talk with your child about COVID-19, what it is and how it is spread.
  • Monitor what your child sees and hears on TV, online and through social media to ensure the information is accurate.
  • Watch for behavior changes in your child, such as excessive crying, irritation, worry, sadness or any other signs of anxiety and stress.
  • Be a role model for practicing self-care by taking breaks, getting plenty of sleep, exercising, eating well and staying socially connected.