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Preparing kids to go back to school in a pandemic | Wear The Gown

Many children haven't been in a classroom for over a year.

SAN ANTONIO — The first day of school for many in south Texas is only a few weeks away—and for many kids it could mean the first time back in a classroom in more than a year. 

Heading back into the classroom during an ongoing pandemic can be scary for children and parents. But if you take the right precautions, you can minimize the risk of your child getting sick from COVID-19 or any other illness. 

It starts by wearing a mask. 

"If they're sick and don't know that they're sick with COVID because people who are vaccinated can become ill, they won't spread it to other people. The other thing it does is it helps to prevent monitoring," said Dr. Teresa Ruiz, a University Health pediatrician and the medical director for UH's Community First Health Plan. 

She says parents need to consider layers of protection. 

"We're going to put a mask on, emphasize hand-washing and distance as much as possible," she said. "Also, you want to make sure that the people around you are doing the same thing and are vaccinated."  

Parents should also be aware of whatever safety precautions schools are taking, such as the percentage of staff vaccinated, mask policies for teachers and students, what kind of social distancing will be enforced, what type of cleaning materials are used and how often, and procedure in regard to safety at lunch and recess. 

You also have to think about how your kids get to and from school, and if the bus is safe. 

"I do think that riding the bus is OK," Ruiz added. "But you need a mask to get the best protection that you can get."  

When it comes to food, Ruiz says eating cafeteria food is safe. 

"COVID is not heavily transmitted by food," she said. "And so we need to trust that the staff who are making the food are doing everything they can do to be as hygienic as possible."  

Ruiz also says if your child is sick in any way, don't send them to school. And if you think it could be COVID-19, get them tested as soon as possible. 

For more men's health information, call 210-358-3045. You can also find the rest of our Wear The Gown coverage here