Dr. Irene Papaconstadopoulos, a pediatrician with Child and Adolescent Maui Physicians – or CH.A.M.PS Pediatrics – provides back to school tips for children after staying home during COVID-19.
Going back to school after staying home during COVID is an exciting time for families but it may also be a stressful time.
Make the transition easier for your kids by planning ahead. Get your child back on a consistent schedule early, which includes a regular bedtime. Most school-aged children need 10-11 hours of sleep per night. Not getting enough sleep can lead to mood and behavior issues and can also affect kids’ cognitive abilities including attention and memory, their decision making and even their immune system!
Another way to help younger children transition back to school is to talk to them about what to expect during the school day. This includes if and when they should keep their mask on, how and where to wash their hands, and what the new drop-off process may be at their school including whether or not you’re able to walk them to their classrooms. You may even want to practice drop-offs and other in-school protocols with little kids.
Lastly, contact your pediatrician and make sure your child is up-to-date on all their regular vaccinations and has had their check-up. As per the American Academy of Pediatrics, many children have missed their routine checkups and vaccinations after the declaration of a national state of emergency on March 13, 2020. When vaccination rates decline, we worry about an outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases that can be harmful to children, such as measles. Herd immunity declines. We also know there has been a reduction in childhood vaccinations worldwide, and as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed, there will be an increased risk of these outbreaks.
And if they qualify, get them vaccinated against COVID-19. The vaccine is the best way to protect your teen and potentially prevent outbreaks in your school community. If you have any questions about your kids’ health, use a reliable source online such as the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov or your pediatrician.
You can also submit specific questions to mauihealth.org/medicalminute.
Parenting is hard and there are so many important decisions we must make. But, the longer you put off a well-child checkup, the farther behind your child may get. So make your child’s checkup a priority and celebrate the daily small wins.