B.C. Children's Hospital has a few more things to add to your back-to-school shopping list - InfoNews

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B.C. Children's Hospital has a few more things to add to your back-to-school shopping list

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August 25, 2020 - 11:30 AM

This school year is going to look much different than others, and while parents are grappling with how to get their children ready for learning in the shadow of a pandemic, the B.C. Children’s Hospital is offering some tips on keeping them safe.

B.C. Children’s Hospital Pediatric Infectious Diseases Specialist Dr. Laura Sauvé has covered everything from conversations to cleanliness and a new cache of school supplies to help parents preparing for the year ahead.

Prepare for the outdoors

“Children may be outside more this year, so kids should be dressed for the weather,” Sauvé said in a B.C. Children’s Hospital media release. “That includes clothes and shoes they can do up themselves because teachers may not be able to help them, while maintaining a physical distance.”

A hat and sunscreen for hot days are important, as are coats and boots for snow and rain.

Wash your hands and stay home when sick

Explain to your children about frequent hand washing, particularly before eating and after using the bathroom.

We also have to help children remember not to touch their face, unless they use a tissue. Parents may want to send hand sanitizer and facial tissues with their children to school.

“If hands look dirty, hand washing with soap and water is best,” Sauvé said. “Otherwise hand sanitizer can be used. Younger children may not remember to hand sanitize, but maybe they could eat their lunch with an older sibling who could be in charge of this. Schools may also have their own rules around hand sanitizer use.”

Some water fountains may be shut off during the pandemic so filling water bottles at home before school may be required.

If children feel sick, make sure they stay home. By implementing a combination of measures at each level, the risk of COVID-19 is substantially reduced.

Keep your distance and prepare an explanation 

While the Ministry of Education and Public Health guidance is using cohorts to lessen the pressure to physically distance, it can be challenging to teach children to keep two metres distance from kids outside their cohort.

“They can take small steps back or be ready to say something they are comfortable with, like, ‘please don’t come that close’ or ‘I think we need to stay two metres apart,’” Sauvé said.

Personal Protective Equipment for children

Depending on their school and their age, some children will need to wear a mask. If they do, having at least two masks could be handy (changed half-way through the day when the first gets damp or dirty).

Parents should follow their local public health authority and school recommendations. In B.C., masks are recommended for ages 10 and up when children can’t maintain a two-metre distance from others, like in halls or on school buses. 

“A teen going to public high school will likely need a mask for moving through crowded hallways, whereas a child in a small kindergarten class is less likely to need one, unless they need to take the bus. It can be hard to get used to because they should not touch their mask or their face,” Sauvé said. “Wearing a mask can be practiced with the family before school starts. If the child touches the mask too much, it might not help prevent infection for that child.”

Another part of preparing will be helping children understand that no one should be shamed or judged if they can't wear a mask.

As for gloves, face shields or goggles, Sauvé says they are appropriate for health-care workers, but not for children.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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