How you can help prepare your kids (and yourselves) to return to group care, camp or school

Teacher Reading to Preschoolers

Many of us are probably experiencing “quarantine fatigue.” We have been home with our families for far longer than any of us has ever been in the past. Literally. In the house or our yards, many of us without the distraction of going into school, work, or shops. As we begin to fantasize about what it will be like to return to some of our previous routines, keep in mind that things will not “return to normal.” There will be, at least, for the most part, a new normal. One that may include: mask-wearing caretakers, counselors, and teachers; morning welcome screenings with temperature measuring and being asked the same questions day after day; new illness policies, a lower bar for sending home children who are not feeling well; new policies for return after being sick. There will be a robust emphasis on handwashing, covering coughs, sneezes, and not touching the T-Zone (eyes, nose, mouth). Some kids may wear masks to camp or school. Activities, schedules & seating will need to be audited to accommodate safe spacing & limiting the number of people in a space.

It is imperative that we talk to our kids now about what things may look like & feel like in the coming weeks and months. You, as the parent, get to set the tone, share the messages at an age-appropriate level, set the stage in a way that you see fit. Now is also the time to be modeling the behaviors and skills your child will need to use at camp or school: meticulous hand washing with soap and scrubbing for 20 seconds; keeping a distance from those who are coughing or not feeling well; keeping their hands off their faces (not easy for any of us); covering coughs and sneezes; what to do if we cough or sneeze in our hands. Most of you have been working on this long before COVID-19, but now you need to find the momentum to keep it going.

We all must work to maintain and strengthen our immune systems so we are up for the task when we head back into the midst of other humans. This includes getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, staying hydrated, and moving our bodies every day.

Speaking of the immune system, this is NOT the time to push off necessary vaccinations. Your child’s provider may be making appointments for the summer or even seeing patients for well checks and needed vaccinations. It’s important that infants and toddlers continue to receive their immunizations on time. Immunizations keep infants and children safe by protecting them from vaccine-preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough (pertussis). The second round of Measles, Mumps & Rubella, as well as Varicella will still be required for Kindergarten. We cannot return to camp or school, only to find ourselves dealing with a measles outbreak as our communities gather back together.

There is much to consider, sort, digest, and adjust to during this health crisis. If we, the adults, are feeling the stress, we know that our kids are, too. Preparing them (and ourselves) for a healthy return to care, camp and school can help increase confidence and reduce anxiety. Jewish Family Service and our school counselors may be able to help you and your family. It is not too early to begin filling toolboxes with the skills and knowledge that will help our children make healthy, successful transitions back to camp and school.


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