If you had told me last year that our nation would be suffering from a health pandemic and the 2020-2021 school year would be much different than years past, I would think you were completely insane. Going back to school during COVID is going to be quite the adjustment. Keep reading to see what Texas is suggesting schools and parents to do during this pandemic in regards to sending children back to school during the Coronavirus.
Wearing Masks in School
Businesses in Texas have recently jumped on board and began enforcing a “no shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service” kind of policy. TEA is suggesting schools follow suit and enforce this safety measure as well. It is recommended that all employees and visitors wear masks.
Students in first grade and up (without a disability) should consider wearing masks with in close proximity with other students. Which in my personal experience, is constant during the school day. This of course is up to the parent or guardian’s discretion. For example, if a parent does not want their 3rd grader to wear a mask they simply will say it is not “developmentally appropriate” and their child will not have to.
COVID and School Lunches
Heading back to school during COVID is going to bring quite a few changes, even during lunch time. According to TEA, school systems should consider practices that reduce the likelihood that students would have close contact, even during lunch. This could include having students eat lunch at their desks, using seats that are spaced at least 6 feet apart, or using dividers on cafeteria tables to shield the students from respiratory droplets. It’s also recommended that students bring their lunch daily in a child friendly lunchbox or schools use pre-packaged lunches to lower the amount of contact.
Coronavirus Safety on the Bus
When possible, parents should consider alternate transportation to and from school such as walking, bike riding, or being a car rider. If a student must ride the bus, they should use hand sanitizer before getting on. Bus drivers are suggested to keep the windows down (when possible) and sanitize the entire bus after each trip. Students (if developmentally appropriate) should also consider wearing masks while on the bus.
Sanitation in Schools
Schools should attempt to have hand sanitizer or hand washing stations in ever room. When the United States had their first COVID case, my school district was quick to add hand sanitizing stations in every room in all 100+ schools. As a mom, this gives me a sense of relief that my child can constantly sanitize if needed. I plan on sending my son to school with his own personal hand sanitizer as well like this one. It’s also asked that teachers take frequent class hand washing breaks to ensure that proper hand washing is occurring.
School Attendance During COVID
It will still be extremely important and necessary to attend school during the Coronavirus. Schools in Texas will continue to hold parents to the 90% attendance requirement for all students, whether that be in person or virtually in order for their child to be promoted to the next grade level. In Texas, students are able to take virtual classes if they can not meet, or choose to not meet in person. ANY parent can request their child take virtual classes from any school system that offers such instruction. This is great for the parents who are weary of sending their child to school during COVID.
Screening For COVID in School
Teachers must self-screen themselves for COVID daily and students should be screened at the beginning of every week via questions. Students will not have their temperatures taken daily.
Testing Positive for COVID in School
If ANY individual (staff, student, visitors) tests positive, or believes they may be positive, they may return to school when ALL 3 conditions are met:
- it’s been 10 days from when symptoms first started
- symptoms (coughing, shortness of breath) have improved AND
- it’s been at least 3 days without a fever
If the individual has symptoms that COULD be COVID-19 and wants to return to school before completing the above stay at home period, the individual must either:
- have a doctor’s note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis OR
- receive two separate confirmations at least 24 hours apart that they are free of COVID via acute infection tests at an approved COVID-19 testing facility
Individuals who have had close contact with someone who is lab confirmed to have COVID-19 should stay home through the 14 day incubation period
Coronavirus in Schools
Heading back to school during COVID is going to be a big adjustment for everyone involved. It makes me wonder how much learning will be able to take place with all of these time constraints and lack of contact between one another. I especially worry about the little ones who learn best through hands on, play. If you want to get a head start and prepare your little one for class before we head back to school during COVID, check out this blog post about what your child needs to know to be successful in Kindergarten.