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AAP outlines safety tips for children returning to school

The American Academy of Pediatrics has outlined safety tips to keep children physically and emotionally healthy as they return to school this season.

As children begin to return to school, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has offered safety tips that parents can use to protect their kids from diseases such as COVID-19 and influenza.

These tips began with basic health measures, such as eating healthily, getting a proper amount of sleep, and being physically active. The AAP considers these measures to be essential for social and academic success.

To encourage this lifestyle, the AAP recommended that parents bring their children in for routine check-ups with a pediatrician. These visits should include receiving updated vaccines for viruses such as COVID-19.

“The single most effective way to protect our children before they return to school is to make sure they are up to date on all of their immunizations,” said Sonja O’Leary, MD, FAAP, chair of the AAP Council on School Health. O’Leary mentioned concerns over a recent decline in vaccination rates, stating that those who are vaccinated against a virus are less likely to be hospitalized or severely sick should they grow ill.

The AAP recommended that anyone 6 months and older receive the COVID-19 vaccine, with children receiving it as soon as they are eligible. Children who show symptoms of illness should also stay home.

In order to protect immunocompromised individuals, the AAP recommended that indoor masking continue, even if it is not required. This will also help protect the unvaccinated and those in an area with a higher rate of COVID-19 transmission.

For other ways of keeping children healthy, the AAP suggested reminding them of the importance of frequent hand washing. They also suggested caregivers ensure that any contact information attached to insurance plans such as Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program is up to date. This will keep caregivers from missing gaps in health coverage.

Should the return to school lead to a change in routine, caregivers can create or update a family media plan, the details of which are further explained on the AAP’s website. This will help children balance screen time with activities which improve their health, such as sleep and exercise.

Caregivers should also check on the mental health of their children, watching for signs of anxiety and depression, along with any worrying shifts in behavior. Caregivers could also receive help from a pediatrician or check if their child’s school has any mental health support available.

“Many children and adolescents have struggled emotionally during the pandemic, and it’s important to let them know it’s ok to talk about that,” O’Leary said. “Talk with your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns about your child’s health as we approach this school year. We know that children are resilient and can overcome many challenges with the help of trusted adults around them. Your pediatrician is a good place to start.”

Reference

American Academy of Pediatrics offers safety tips for the return to school. American Academy of Pediatrics. August 10, 2022. Accessed August 16, 2022. https://www.aap.org/en/news-room/news-releases/health--safety-tips/american-academy-of-pediatrics-offers-safety-tips-for-the-return-to-school/