As students return to classes throughout Delaware County for the 2020-2021 school year, they are being advised how to prevent themselves from getting infected with COVID-19.
Big Walnut Local Schools is no exception, and District Nurse Megan Truax has offered tips to parents. For background on the novel coronavirus, parents should check out the Delaware General Health District (DGHD), Centers for Disease Control and Ohio Department of Health.
First, face masks or gaiters with multiple layers of fabric are required by the State of Ohio.
In a health and safety update posted to the district’s website, Truax asks parents to explain to their children that wearing a mask “is important to keep everyone healthy and that some people may not wear one for medical reasons.”
Ask for useful tips, Truax adds children should be able to put their masks on and off with clean hands using the ear loops or ties, and without touching the mask. The mask should cover the nose and chin completely, and fit snugly, yet be comfortable. The mask should also “allow for breathing without restriction,” Truax writes.
She notes masks should be labeled with the child’s name, and parents should pack an extra clean mask. Masks should be able to be washed and dried without damaging or changing its shape.
In addition to wearing a mask, Truax notes hand-washing and using hand sanitizer is important. Students will need to wash their hands “before and after eating, after using the restroom, after coughing or sneezing, when visibly dirty, after touching your mask and anytime throughout the day as requested by staff,” she writes.
Truax adds students should avoid touching their face, and they need to keep their fingers out of their mouth and nose. If they cough or sneeze, they need to cover it with their elbow, use a tissue, and wash their hands when done. When students come home from school, they should wash their hands immediately as well as their masks, she adds.
The health and safety update also notes children should understand social distancing, which includes keeping their hands to themselves and not sharing supplies. “No high fives or hugging, but an elbow bump or toe tap are a great way to say Hi!” Truax writes.
Drinking fountains are closed in the schools, but filling stations are open. Students are allowed to bring a personal, refillable, labeled water bottle.
The health and safety update notes parents should check their children’s temperature and check for any symptoms, such as: A temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, congestion or runny nose, uncontrolled cough with difficulty breathing, chills or shaking, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell.
“If these symptoms are new and not associated with symptoms of allergies or asthma, your child should not attend school,” Truax writes.
While not necessarily associated with coronavirus, other reasons not to attend school include: Head lice, eye infection, strep throat, rash, ER or hospital visit in the past day.
According to the health and safety update, in the event there is a positive or suspected case of COVID-19, the nurse will contact the DGHD. They will explain how and when the child can return to school, and be in touch with anyone considered a close contact. A “Release to Activity” letter from the DGHD is required to return. If a student is ill at school, they will be placed in a waiting room and will be assessed by a nurse wearing a gown, gloves, mask and face shield. They will determine whether the child needs to be sent home.
“It is our goal to keep students at school and learning,” Truax writes. “However, out of an abundance of caution, we may have to send ill students home when we would have typically tried to keep them at school to see if their symptoms resolve on their own.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.