Next month, backpacks will unzip, notebooks will be filled, and school doors will open. After more than a year of virtual learning, most schools will return to full-time in-person education this fall.
Mary’s Center Pediatrician Dr. Letizia Valentín-Friebele wants you to know it is absolutely safe to send your children back in person. Kids learn better in the school environment, and with the right precautions in place, they have minimal risk of contracting COVID-19.
Even with common medical conditions like asthma, says Dr. Valentín-Friebele, kids can still attend school safely. In rare situations, virtual learning may be an option with a doctor’s note.
To prepare for the new school year, Dr. Valentín-Friebele has four quick tips for families:
1) Catch up on immunizations
This year has been a testament to the power of vaccines. By giving your children the protection of immunizations, you are providing the utmost safety for them and everyone they encounter.
As usual, all schools will require up-to-date immunizations for student returning in person. We recommend that you book your appointment for a back-to-school physical at Mary’s Center as soon as possible to beat the rush and ensure your child can be in the classroom.
Be sure to bring a copy of the health form required in your jurisdiction. See links below:
For families in DC:
For families in Maryland:
2) Get the COVID-19 vaccine if eligible
The COVID-19 vaccine is currently approved and recommended for ages 12 and up, and schools strongly encourage everyone attending in person to get the vaccine. This vaccine is proven to prevent severe cases of COVID-19, so you don’t have to worry about your child coming into contact with the virus at school.
When you bring your child in for their physical, we can provide the COVID-19 vaccine along with any other immunizations your child needs. As an added benefit, if you haven’t received your COVID-19 vaccine yet, we can also do yours at the same time!
3) Stock up on masks and hand sanitizer
Going back to school this fall demands a few more supplies than the ordinary school year. Most schools will require students to wear face masks throughout the day. Pack at least two extra masks for your child in case any gets lost or dirty, and you may want to label the masks to prevent confusion between students. Remind your child that they should never share or trade masks.
All local school districts have committed to enhanced cleaning protocols, but you should still remind your child to wash their hands often, and also keep an extra bottle of hand sanitizer in their backpack. While hand washing is most effective, hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol are a good substitute.
4) Be prepared
Even with all these safety practices, it is still imperative to develop a plan in case a family member or anyone at your child’s school gets sick. If your child displays any symptoms such as a fever or cough, you will need to keep them home from school for their own protection and for the protection of the school community.
Before the school year begins, double check your emergency contacts and school pick-up/drop-off arrangements, and make sure you have backup childcare options if needed. Also, look into how your school communicates positive COVID-19 cases so you can remain alert and aware.
We know all this information can be overwhelming, but Mary’s Center is committed to helping you and your family navigate the return to school. Most importantly, remember that vaccines are the key to your child’s safe and healthy future!
Make a back-to-school physical appointment today by calling 1-844-796-2797 or filling out an online form here. We accept most insurance plans, including Medicaid or private insurance. We also have a sliding scale if you don’t have insurance.
Special thanks to Mary’s Center intern Katie Hanson for contributing to this post.