2020 Back-to-School Safety

2020 Back-to-School Safety


Although every school year brings with it a list of unique challenges, 2020 is more challenging than most. In fact, most of us have never experienced disruption like this before. Therefore, it’s understandable that we aren’t sure how best to keep kids, parents, teachers, and support staff safe during the 2020 school year.

Every parent or guardian will need to make the decision that’s best for their family. However, there are a few general guidelines endorsed by trusted organizations.

American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends several basic measures. First, all high-touch surfaces, including desks and doors, should be disinfected throughout the day. Students, teachers, and staff need to do their part by regularly washing hands and using hand sanitizer.

Ideally, the classroom setup and flow should change to minimize crowding. Desks should be a minimum of three feet apart, with fewer students in each classroom than during a normal school year.

The AAP, via healthychildren.org, also recommends that kids stay put in their assigned classrooms while teachers move between periods. That will significantly limit the amount of traffic in the hallways.

What about lunch? Unfortunately, eating lunches and snacks at their desks will be the new norm for students this year. However, the AAP does recommend that outdoor spaces be used as often as possible, so schools with courtyards or lawns should provide areas for the students to socialize while staying socially distant.

Finally, everyone should wear a mask. Studies have shown that when everyone is masked up, transmission rates drop dramatically.

Centers for Disease Control

The CDC has issued its own set of recommendations for keeping students safe during the pandemic. One of the strategies they recommend is cohorting.

That means “keeping students in class pods, staggering when students return to school facility, having the same teacher stay with the same group of students.” The concept is a little like family or friend groups creating “bubbles” so that they can socialize outside their immediate household.

Another recommendation is to limit “participation in activities where social distancing is not feasible.” Team sports and other extracurricular pursuits will likely be put on hold until the United States is able to get the virus under control.

Other Tips for Returning as Safely as Possible

Unfortunately, no amount of preparation can ensure 100% safety when kids go back to school. There are simply too many unknowns to prepare for everything.

That having been said, there are a few more things you can do to minimize risk:

  • Take kids’ temperatures every morning before school; if a child is running even a mild fever, they need to stay home.
  • Each child should have their own set of supplies, and they should not share with other kids.
  • Have an after-school routine to sanitize hands, put clothing in the laundry, take off shoes at the door, and other steps to minimize contamination.