Helping children thrive and return to school safely

The Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal

By Allona Anderson

Kaiser Permanente

Many parents are asking an important question: Is my child prepared for in-person schooling after months at home with isolation and remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

With school personnel now being vaccinated and many students returning to campus, Kaiser Permanente medical and mental health experts say it’s critically important to prepare and support children throughout this change. They emphasize to not rush or pressure children who are adjusting to new learning and social environments. Rather, it’s necessary to explain safety precautions kids need to take to better protect their health in the classroom setting.

If precautions are followed and parents can communicate clearly to children about how to stay safe by following simple steps, children are more likely to thrive and readjust well to their new in-person learning environments, health experts say.

Communication is key

“The most important thing is to keep the lines of communications open between you and your child,” said Dr. Luis Sandoval, a psychiatrist with Kaiser Permanente. “Ask your child about any questions or concerns they may have going back to school. Once they return, ask them how it’s going, and what you can do to help them readjust. Tell them it’s normal to feel scared, anxious, but don’t forget to bring up the positive elements of this change.”

From a mental health perspective, “Focus on your children being happy, motivated, and good academic performance will follow,” Dr. Sandoval explained.

Parents also need to describe the safety precautions to their children that help protect them from COVID-19, while still closely monitoring their children’s health, said Dr. Priya Harder, a pediatrician with Kaiser Permanente Santa Clarita.

“It’s important to help children understand they need to always wear a mask at school unless they’re eating or drinking,” she explained. “Other essential reminders include not sharing food, maintaining distance from schoolmates, and washing hands frequently with soap, especially before and after eating. This will help children significantly lower their chances of getting sick.”

“As more individuals become vaccinated, particularly teachers, and if we continue to practice safety guidelines, we’ll have a good and healthy year — both in terms of controlling the virus and from a psycho-social standpoint,” Dr. Harder added.

As a leading health care provider for school employees and the students and families they serve, Kaiser Permanente is committed to health for all.

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