Ever since the start of the pandemic, schools have turned to an online format in an effort to ensure that students can get a quality education while also being protected from exposure to the virus. With the introduction of vaccines, initially for adults and now for children as well, the world is slowly moving in a direction of normalcy, similar to life before the pandemic.
As a lot of children have been away from socialising, interaction and in-person classes for over one and a half years, the return to schools can be daunting for parents and children alike. Connector has asked some of the UAE's medical experts for some tips and measures parents can take, and advise their children to do, for when they are back in the classroom.
1. Face masks are worn the right way: With going back to school and finally being able to socialise, children must remember to still follow all the precautionary rules including wearing face masks. Dr Mahassen, Pediatric Doctor at Saudi German Clinic mentioned that children should always wear their face masks on school premises. Face masks help prevent the spread of the virus and should be worn the right way by covering both their mouths and nose, especially after eating or drinking water.
2. Check in with your kids: As children have had little to no socialisation with their peers, going back to school can be stressful for so many after getting into a routine with online classes. Dr Misha Sahu, Consultant Paediatrician at HealthBay Motor City says that parents should check in with their kids daily, hear them out, encourage them and help them navigate the conflicts in their lives.
3. Maintaining hygiene: The best way to ensure a child's safety is by having conversations with them and letting them know the importance of hygiene especially during a pandemic. Dr Prabhakar Patil, Specialist Paediatrician at Medcare Women and Children's Hospital said that although children are aware of washing their hands properly and not sharing food or tissues with others, it is important to educate and remind them so that they can also retain the information and follow these practices.
4. No touch technique: Dr David Egbert, Specialist Paediatrician at Dubai London Clinic, The Villa Centro said that children should make sure they follow the no-touch technique. As children are prone to touch various surfaces and objects, they must ensure afterwards that they do not touch their face as the virus can spread through the nose, mouth and eyes. If they do need to touch their face, children should either use a hand sanitiser or wash their hands before.
5. Stay at home if sick: Children are prone to getting sick as their immune systems are not as developed as adults and prior to the pandemic, children were always prone to getting sick with common colds and viral fever. With the pandemic and the symptoms very similar to that of the common flu, if a child is feeling sick and has a fever, cough or is showing any other symptoms, parents should make sure that their child stays at home in order to avoid other children at school from also getting sick.
6. Eat healthy: As children age, they need to eat healthy to ensure that they are getting all the daily nutrients required. Dr Misha Sahu, Consultant Paediatrician at HealthBay Motor City said that in order to get the right balance of nutrition, children should eat protein as well as colourful fruits and vegetables, drink plenty of water and enjoy treats only on special occasions. Additionally, balanced portion sizes will give children all the nutrients required as well as keep them energised throughout the day.
7. Stay up to date on flu shots: Dr Prabhakar Patil, Specialist Paediatrician at Medcare Women and Children's Hospital mentions that it is important to stay up to date with the vaccines given to your child as it will help against common infections like measles, polio, tetanus and more by giving children additional immunity to fight the infection. Similarly, parents should also make sure that they are vaccinated against COVID-19 to help fight the virus and must eventually vaccinate children when their time comes.