With schools scheduled to reopen post the lockdown induced by COVID-19, parents are facing a new challenge: is it safe to send children back to school?

Here’s how you can protect your kids from COVID-19 as schools reopen

Kids, get ready to pack your school bag with books, pens, and… hand sanitiser! After weeks of conducting virtual classes, educational institutions have been given the go-ahead by the ministry of health to partially reopen on a voluntary basis for students of classes 9 to 12.

As a parent, it’s only natural to worry about your child’s health and safety at school. Here are some ways to ensure they stay safe:

1. Take their temperature before they leave

Conducting temperature checks for each student may not be feasible at school. It’s best to take their temperature at home to make sure your child doesn’t have a fever before entering the campus. If you want to be even more reassured, consider investing in an oxygen saturation monitor to measure oxygen level in the blood – a drop could be an early sign of infection, even before the more obvious symptoms appear. If your child shows any signs of illness or fever or other symptoms, let them stay away from school and other activities and consult a doctor.

2. Make them carry a packed lunch from home

Though school cafeterias may adhere to all safety protocols and serve food contact-free, it’s always better for kids to bring their own food from home. Ditch reusable lunch boxes in favour of disposable ones. Make sure you pack a nutritious, home-cooked meal and avoid junk or raw food as much as possible. Also, remind your kids to refrain from sharing their lunch box, water (or anything for that matter) with their friends as this is one of the quickest ways to spread germs.

Related: How to financially plan for your child’s education?

3. Teach them to practise regular hand-washing

Make it an instinctive routine for your child to frequently wash their hands and maintain good hygiene. Practice at home with them and explain why it’s important to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. It may sound easy, but instil this necessary habit whenever they leave home, arrive at school, before eating, or after touching their mask. Since it might not be possible to wash one’s hands each time before touching something, a hand sanitiser will come in very handy. Don’t forget to pack an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. You can attach a mini bottle to their backpack so it’s easily accessible.

4. Dissuade them from taking the school bus

As far as possible, steer clear of school buses or any mass transportation mode and use your own private vehicle to drop and pick up your kids. For those living close to their school or college, walking is a good way to commute. Car-pooling with a few neighbourhood children is also an easy way to get to school, but ensure to avoid a large group and remain socially distanced.

Related: How to prepare yourself financially during a pandemic 

5. Make sure they wear a mask

Wearing a mask is the most effective preventative measure, especially when it’s hard to maintain social distancing. So make it a priority for school-going children. Keep multiple cloth masks available for your child. Demonstrate how to correctly wear it so that it covers their nose and mouth, and remind them to clean their hands each time they touch the mask. Provide them with a clean mask and a backup mask each day along with a clean, resealable bag to store them when they need to take it off while having lunch. Label their masks clearly so they don't get mixed up with someone else’s.

6. Encourage them to take a shower once back home

Encourage your child to take a shower as soon as they return home from school and change into fresh clothes. Make this a habit. Adolescents and children, in general, are less symptomatic, but there is a chance they could come back home as carriers of the virus without even knowing it. This could put you and others at home at risk.

Related: Government initiatives for education and skills: How to apply for one? 

7. Have a conversation to reassure them

It’s important to address any concerns your child may have about returning to school during the pandemic. Being vulnerable is difficult, which is why you may need to initiate the conversation if they don’t. Your child could be anxious about wearing a mask every day or not being able to meet their friends, so help them cope with their feelings in a reassuring manner. Reinforce everyday precautions and explain the importance of social and physical distancing, while also being kind and empathetic to others during this trying time. In case your child has weak immunity, it would be advisable to consult your family physician before sending the kid to school and continue with online classes if the school permits. 

Returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic may not feel normal for quite a while. But following these measures can make you feel assured that your child is as safe as possible in school. How prepared are you to meet your child's education cost?