Frequently Asked Questions During COVID-19: Health, School, and Travel for Summer/Fall 2020 - Promise
Frequently Asked Questions During COVID-19: Health, School, and Travel for Summer/Fall 2020

Frequently Asked Questions During COVID-19: Health, School, and Travel for Summer/Fall 2020

The end of summer is usually a time for excitement and anticipation for kids and their families. But this year, many families are feeling anxious as fall approaches. In this second part in a series of frequently asked questions about kids and COVID-19, we’ll talk more about how your children can be safest during the back-to-school season.

Should I send my child to school?

Both the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agree that it is very important for students to be physically present at school, if it is safe to do so. Every state, as well as individual school districts, has plans for the re-opening of schools in 2020, and parents should weigh the benefits of in-class versus online participation for their children when given that option.

If possible, take time to discuss with teachers and administrators the best practices that your child’s school has adopted for safe in-class return. If your child is old enough, it could also help to discuss their feelings on returning to the classroom. CDC has provided a tool for parents, caregivers and guardians to help make the decision.

Have a virtual plan if schools need to close due to outbreaks.

If your child attends a college or university, encourage them to learn about the school’s plan for a COVID-19 outbreak.

Should my child go to the doctor?

Thinking twice about bringing your child to their doctor or health care provider? Regular exams and protecting your children from infections is more important than ever.  Practices at Nemours Children’s Health and across the country have launched new measures to help keep your family safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infections during clinic visits. This includes extra steps to clean, disinfect and limit contact with other patients and staff. In many cases, patients will be asked to wait in the car until an exam room is ready, and well visits are often separated from sick visits.

The AAP stresses that routine baby and child checkups are still essential — especially in-person visits and vaccines for children age 24 months and younger.

The AAP says babies and children need to see the doctor in person for exams; testing (including laboratory testing); hearing, vision and oral health screening; fluoride varnish and immunizations. Before making an appointment for your child to visit their doctor, contact them to see if there are any new precautions required for visits, or if there is a telemedicine alternative.

Should my child go to the dentist or orthodontist?

At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, oral health providers closed their offices to help stop the spread of the virus, since it spreads via particles from the mouth and nose. However, most dentists and orthodontists have re-opened and are following tight protocols to protect the health and wellness of patients. As with everything else, weigh the necessity and importance of your child’s visit to your oral health provider, and if routine visits can wait, schedule them for a later time.

In the meantime, encourage your children to practice good oral health, like brushing their teeth twice a day and staying away from sugary drinks!

Should my child be on a sports league?

The risk of spreading COVID-19 is different for every activity, but your family can take steps to lower the risk of exposure and spread while playing sports.

  • Low Risk: Skill-building and conditioning drills at home, alone or with members of the same household.
  • Increased Risk: Team-based practice.
  • More Risk: Within-team competition.
  • High Risk: Full competition between teams from same geographic areas.
  • Highest Risk: Full competition between teams from different geographic areas.

Talk to your child’s coaches and teachers about the safety measures being taken for your sports league. Sports where kids can maintain at least six feet between teammates and who have smaller teams may be better options for your family this year. A few more options to stay safe:

  • Stay home if sick
  • Wear a mask  whenever possible
  • Minimize sharing of equipment
  • Cover coughs/sneezes, avoid  spitting
  • Wash hands as often as possible
  • Limit travel  

Should my child wear a mask?

When cloth face coverings are used often and correctly, they help slow the spread of COVID-19. CDC recommends that everyone two years and older, including teachers, staff, and students, wear cloth face coverings in public settings when around people who live outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.

Some schools may have exceptions for cloth face coverings. Talk to your kid’s teachers to learn more about the best practices in your district, and check out CDC’s guide on their use in schools.

Is it safe for my child to get a haircut?

Most hair salons and barbers have resumed business in the U.S. and are taking extra precautions in seeing clients. If you bring your child for a haircut in a salon, check with them first about safety rules; many businesses only allow one set of customers inside at a time. Safety precautions like staying home if you’re sick, wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing when possible should all be observed.

Is it safe to travel?

Unnecessary air travel is still not recommended within the U.S. However, some airlines are taking extra precautions during flights. If your family needs to travel during the outbreak, be sure to research flight guidelines in advance and follow safety practices to prevent spread.

For those taking public transportation, a cloth face covering, and social distancing is highly recommended and sometimes mandatory depending on the system you’re traveling with.

The New Normal

It may be frustrating to your family to get used to their new normal, especially with new science and discoveries every day. The best plan for the health and safety of your family is taking precautions and making safety part of your everyday routine. Follow these tips to continue making the best decisions for your family.

More Information from Nemours KidsHealth

Kate Cronan, MD

About Kate Cronan, MD

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Dr. Cronan is a pediatric emergency attending physician at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., and a medical editor at Nemours Children’s Health Media.