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What back to school may look like this year

A toy school bus.

Many kids are attending classes in person this fall for the first time since COVID-19 closed schools in the spring. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), kids do learn better in person. But schools can’t reopen safely until a community has the virus under control. 

Each state—and even each school—may take different steps to lower the risk of spreading the virus. But everyone can expect to see some changes. According to the AAP and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these might include things like:

Staggered schedules. Teaching smaller groups of students in shifts may be the best way to reduce the number of students in classrooms at once.

Spacing students apart. Desks might be up to 6 feet apart where space permits. And kids may no longer face each other at tables.

Wearing masks. Students and staff may be asked to wear cloth face coverings, especially when distancing isn't possible—for instance in classrooms or on school buses.

Desktop dining. Kids might eat their lunches at their desks or outside instead of in crowded cafeterias.

Traffic control. To limit contact in tight spaces, schools might mark hallways with one-way arrows. And students might see signs reminding them to social distance and wash their hands often.

Roving teachers. Teachers could move from classroom to classroom instead of students.

Rethinking field trips and rallies. School gatherings may be held online or with smaller groups.

As a parent, you can help by preparing your child for changes like these. Encourage them to follow their school's rules. And keep them home if they show any signs of being sick or if they've been in contact with someone who has COVID-19.

When kids come home

To help keep the rest of your family safe, make sure these two steps are part of your child's after-school routine as soon as they walk in the door:

  • Put their cloth face coverings in the wash.
  • Wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Read more about keeping kids safe from COVID-19 in our Coronavirus health topic center.

Reviewed 1/11/2021

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