Five Ways to Keep Your Children Safe as They Return to School
by Michelle S. Lazurek
2020 has proven to be a difficult season of life for everyone. What was once thought to be a virus that could be controlled by simply shutting down businesses and schools for two weeks has now become a disease that, without a vaccine, strikes fear in many people’s hearts. This is especially true for those with children who are doing their best to make back-to-school plans. Whether your school has gone virtual or has chosen a hybrid option, keeping your child safe is proving increasingly difficult.
With back-to-school looking very different in these tumultuous times, it is easy to feel frustrated and angry about the possibility of your child contracting this virus. But even with plans changing often, it is important to keep your child’s safety a priority. Here are some ways to keep your child safe as they return to school:
Bring hand sanitizer. Even as schools promise to sanitize often, parents with both older and younger children can have cause for concern. Buy mini hand sanitizers that come in a keychain size to hook onto backpacks and keep in lockers in between classes. Encourage your child to use it after class, even if there are hand sanitizing stations present around the school. If your child keeps good hygiene, it will cut down on the number of germs your child carries with him on his hands, and the less he will transfer to his body as he touches his face, eyes, nose and mouth.
Wear a mask. Most schools are requiring students to wear a mask. Encourage your child to keep one in his pocket and in his locker in case he misplaces one. While they pose a nuisance and an annoyance to those who wear them, it will ease your child’s mind to know he is taking a step toward his own protection. If your child is hesitant to wear one, encourage him to find one in his favorite style. Many masks have cute designs that can easily be purchased at your favorite store or online. If your children are creative, help them make their own mask. Making a mask will give them a creative outlet for their anxiety about attending school in person and also help them take ownership of their own protection.
Communicate online. Although part of the skills learned in school is socialization, social distancing can make this difficult. Since kids will be socially distanced during lunch periods, encourage them to use their phone. Most kids are technologically adept and can use their phones to text, send pictures, etc. This will help them keep in touch with their friends, even if they can’t talk to them as they once could in school. This will help especially if your school has gone completely virtual. This will help with their mental health to keep them social with friends and decrease their feelings of loneliness that isolation can cause.
Having said this, the phone can also be a hindrance as much as it can be a help. Cyberbullying on social media and through texts still runs rampant. It is important as parents to know what your children are doing on their phones. Put proper safeguards in place by blocking social media sites that allow cyberbullying to continue with little or no repercussions. Know who they are talking to via text and verify the person they are talking to is actually that person. Just because a name pops up on a child’s phone or a picture appears with a name and age does not mean that is really that person. Pedophiles can pose as friends or peers and seek out your children via a website’s direct messenger feature.
Do your research. Read articles about the way predators operate on social media so your child doesn’t fall victim. Be vigilant and educate yourself on every new and upcoming site in which your child may take an interest. There is a place for a child’s privacy; but your child’s safety trumps privacy every time.
When in doubt, stay home. With the proliferation of the coronavirus, we forget there will be regular colds and other viruses that will make our child sick. If your child is coughing, sneezing or complaining of aches and pains, it is best to play it safe and keep your child at home. While going back to school is proving inconvenient and economically unfeasible to parents who work, taking some extra precautions with your child will promote safety but also help your child know he means enough to you to keep him safe.
Keep them educated. In addition to virus precautions, schools have to prepare kids for active shooters and other threats to their safety while in the building. Remind your children of this possibility, and ease their anxiety by reassuring them that the drills and other measures schools take are for their benefit.
It is a different world for our children to attend school than it was for us when we were their age. But knowing parents are doing what they can to protect them will show children you care and will help them navigate these tumultuous, anxiety producing times.
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award winning author, speaker, pastor’s wife and mother. She is a regular contributor for ibelieve.com and crosswalk.com and is a movie reviewer for Movieguide Magazine. She also is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia and spending time with her family and her crazy dog, Cookie. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.com.
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