It sure has been a strange year. As parents and students figure out the temporary changes, there are bound to be some growing pains. In those stressful times, it’s nice to have a list of pointers to follow. That’s why we’ve compiled 10 back to school safety tips for 2020.
Given the current situation, this post especially focuses on health safety. However, we go beyond sickness and talk about things like backpack weight, car safety, and more. Check the list out and give it a share if you find these tips helpful!
10 Back to School Safety Tips for 2020
1. Stay Home When Sick
Rule number one of back to school safety is to stay home when sick. There are no prizes for those trying to “tough it out.” Instead, help classmates and teachers by keeping children home when sick. This is especially important when new illnesses are circulating in the community.
2. Wash Hands Frequently and Properly
Always a good rule, but especially important when sickness is spreading. Wash your hands frequently, including before and after cooking, shopping, opening doors, and socializing. Additionally, make sure you use soap and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Kids can try singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice in their heads as an easy timer.
3. Use Hand Sanitizer When You Can’t Wash
Don’t always have access to a sink with soap? Use hand sanitizer when you can’t wash your hands. Make sure the hand sanitizer is at least 70 percent alcohol too. While washing your hands is preferable, hand sanitizer helps in a pinch to kill viruses and bacteria.
4. Wear a Mask Around Others
When in close contact with others, wear a mask. This helps prevent the spread of germs when talking, coughing, or sneezing. N95 masks and surgical loop masks are most effective, but even a cloth mask (regularly washed) will slow the spread.
Just like wearing a seatbelt or a bike helmet, wearing a mask only works if you use it properly. Make sure the mask always covers your mouth and nose, especially when talking. Don’t touch your mask frequently either, to avoid spreading germs from your mask to your hands.
See the CDC website for more info.
5. Practice Social Distancing
When possible, stay at least six feet apart from one another. Masks make social distancing even more effective and help when social distancing isn’t possible. Remember to follow the signs in schools and stores to practice social distancing.
6. Keep Friend Gatherings Small
One of the most important back to school safety tips is to keep friend gatherings small. While kids want to see all their friends again, it’s more important to stay healthy. Try keeping friend gatherings to four kids or fewer. Additionally, space out friend gatherings over time so they aren’t clustered together. This minimizes the potential spread of sickness.
7. Don’t Overfill Your Backpack
We should mention some non-sickness back to school safety tips. An important one is to watch the weight of backpacks. Many children inadvertently have back pain or bad posture because of overfilled backpacks.
As a rule, backpacks should never clock in at more than 10-15 percent of a child’s weight. This is especially important now that kids often carry laptops in addition to books. Regularly weigh your child’s backpack to make sure it’s safe.
8. Stay in Touch When Plans Change
Plans for kids can change quickly, especially in middle and high school. Make sure you keep in touch with your kid when plans change. It doesn’t need to be a big to-do (and making it one may upset teens) but a simple text from children to parents letting them know they’ll be home at a different time is helpful.
9. Walk and Bike Safely
Walking and biking to school is great way for kids to gain independence and responsibility. It also provides exercise. Many places in North America, though, are designed more for cars than people. As such, kids must take extra care when walking and biking. Some helpful tips include:
- Wearing bright clothing
- Walking/biking in pairs
- Using crosswalks and bike lanes
- Making eye contact with drivers when walking
10. Take Responsibility as a Driver
For those driving, you must take responsibility for the safety of children. Slow down in school zones, even when inconvenient. Twenty miles per hour may seem slow, but that gives pedestrians a 90 percent chance of survival in an accident. At 30 miles per hour, that drops to just 50 percent. And at 40 miles per hour, it’s only 10 percent.
Some other things drivers must do:
- Stay off cell phones
- Obey crossing guards and signs
- Be ready to brake
- Watch corners and blind spots
- Check crosswalks before turning
Remember to stay healthy and look out for others this fall. And if you know others who could benefit from back to school safety tips, share this post with them!