Back to School 2020: What You Need to Know

September 1, 2020

Mark L. Friedman, MD, FACEP, FACP

With COVID-19 still posing a risk, and the flu season starting soon, school will look much different this year. If your child is returning to class, here’s what you need to know. 


Our doctors are still here for you 24/7.

If the pandemic and flu weren’t enough, there are the other illnesses children commonly contract in the fall and winter months at school: 

  • Pink Eye
  • Lice
  • Strep Throat
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Cold and Flu
  • Allergies
  • Skin Rash

Our doctors are available via phone or video to treat all these, and more.


Yes, you can reduce your family’s risk of getting COVID-19.

If you’re sending your kids back to school this year, you’re concerned about the new risks and want to minimize them as best you can. Here are some helpful tips. 

See symptoms? Be extremely cautious. While many children have only mild symptoms of COVID-19, if any, the most common symptoms in children include fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, headache, body ache, and diarrhea. Even if you think that your child’s symptoms are not COVID-19, for the safety of teachers and other students, it is important that your child stay home — and get tested as soon as possible.

Model mask-wearing. Show your children how to put on and remove their mask and store it properly. A lanyard can help them avoid dropping it or placing it on surfaces. Teach your children to wear a mask anytime they will be in public or among persons who are not members of your household. The CDC gives specific guidelines for masks here, under Cloth Face Coverings. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness, so mask-wearing is the most important action you and your family can take to prevent its spread.

Keep your home clean. To minimize germs in your home, anyone returning from being in public should thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water. The CDC recommends that everyone Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

Stock up on supplies. If you are able, send your kids to school with an extra mask, in a clean plastic bag, and whatever school supplies you can. Although viral transmission is almost entirely through airborne particles, the virus can live on surfaces — which means that sharing items can mean sharing germs. You can find or donate school supplies at the links below. 

For more guidelines, consult this checklist from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Unsure if your child should go back to school? 

Trying to decide whether to send your child to school can be overwhelming. While you want your kids to go to school both to learn and to develop their social skills, it’s difficult to be completely comfortable when so much about COVID-19 is unknown. To help you decide what to do, here are some things to consider and questions to ask:

  • What is your school doing to mitigate the risk to your child? Consider student density, ventilation, the number of school personnel, etc.
  • Think about who lives in your home -- is there anyone at high risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19? 
  • Is homeschooling an option for your family? In-home learning can keep your kids on a schedule as they keep pace academically while greatly reducing their risk of contracting COVID-19.


Back-to-School Resources

  • If money is tight and you need help with school supplies this fall, contact your local chapters of the Boys and Girls Club of America, the Salvation Army, the Kids in Need Foundation, and the United Way
  • Use your telemedicine benefit to avoid germy waiting rooms and unnecessary bills. First Stop Health doctors are available 24/7 to provide treatment in MINUTES for cold, flu, fever, aches and pains, and more. 
  • Is the pandemic taking a toll on your emotional well-being? If your employer provides you with virtual counseling in addition to telemedicine, you can talk to a counselor via phone or video at no cost to you. Simply request a visit on the app to get started. (If you don’t see “Talk to a Counselor” on your app home screen, your employer does not provide virtual counseling at this time.)

    You can also check out these resources from the National Alliance on Mental Illness


Talk to a Doctor or Counselor

Get the App

Originally published Sep 1, 2020 10:59:30 PM.