For most parents, the sound of school bells may never sound as sweet as when ringing in the 2021-22 academic year. After nearly a year and a half of juggling in-home and hybrid school, coupled with work from home and trying to safeguard the health of the household, parents deserve some post-COVID time to play hooky.
While the decline of COVID-19 cases make it possible for students to return to the classroom full time, officials from the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) and Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) caution that we’re not free of the pandemic.
With Louisiana ranking along with Alabama and Mississippi at the top—not for football but among states with the lowest vaccination rates, protecting students requires large doses of caution and prevention.
As students get ready for school with relaxed health rules, naturally you and your child may be nervous. Overcome any anxiety by staying informed. The Louisiana Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide credible resources and guidance on the virus, including the highly contagious Delta variant.
Parents considering a COVID vaccine for their child—everyone 12 years and older in Louisiana is currently eligible—may want to watch a LDH webinar featuring a panel of healthcare experts from throughout the state. “Vaccine Q&A for Parents and K-12 Students” addresses benefits and risks of the vaccine for children.
Catch up on the Checkups.
During the chaos of 2020, many children missed annual well checks, required vaccines and preventive dental visits. Catch up on these checkups before school starts.
This fall is expected to be yet another unknown, mostly due to spread of the Delta variant. Don’t worry if you’ve lost track of which immunization is due. Just schedule an appointment; your child’s doctor can get everyone back on schedule.
Take An Ounce of Prevention.
As students get ready for school, review with them how to safely protect themselves from COVID and other viruses.
- Wash hands thoroughly and often with soap or use hand sanitizer;
- Socially distance and avoid large groups; most schools have specific group gathering guidelines;
- When wearing a mask cover the mouth, nose, and chin;
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue if available or the bend of the arm;
- Avoid touching the face and eyes;
- Remind young children not to use another child’s comb, brush, cap or hat, or play with another’s hair.
Follow the Guidelines.
Despite precautions, the LDOE expects some students and school personnel to get COVID during the school year. The agency has developed School Operational Guidelines to navigate through the uncertainty. These include:
- Stay home if sick and particularly if you have fever;
- Anyone with COVID should isolate at home under CDC criteria (10 days since symptoms first appeared and 24 hours with no fever);
- Stay home and monitor symptoms for 14 days if you’ve been in close contact—six feet or less—to a person infected with COVID;
- If vaccinated and asymptomatic, you do need to quarantine if exposed to COVID.
For more information contact the Wellness Education Center of Thibodaux Regional, 985.493.4765.