Schools on Long Island have been cleared for reopening by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, contingent upon Covid-19 infection rates staying below 5 percent across the region. With that in mind, Dr. Gail Schonfeld of East End Pediatrics in East Hampton shared some advice for keeping East End kids and families healthy.
1. Wearing masks in school is extremely important, as is social distancing and frequent hand washing with soap for at least 20 seconds. "That has become a standard mantra," Dr. Schonfeld says. In fact, other experts say, parents should help their children practice wearing masks, particularly for young ones who may think they are scary. Children can even pick out their own masks or decorate them to give them a sense of control over the situation.
2. Health starts at home, so parents and other relatives in the house should also be vigilant about wearing masks, social distancing, and washing their hands. "It really is the adults who are going to have to be concerned and need to be very responsible," Dr. Schonfeld says.
3. If a child or family member at home has symptoms of Covid-19, the child should absolutely not come to school. "We all like the idea of having children back in school for many different reasons and for some people it is an absolute necessity to be able to work," Dr. Schonfeld says. "I know that could be a challenge for some people, but it would be extremely important" to keep sick children home.
4. Parents should provide emotional support or find additional such resources for their children. "They haven't been in school in a while and they have to get back into routines, and now everything's going to be kind of different," Dr. Schonfeld says. "They may be frightened that their life is in danger and they need to be told they need to be socially responsible but they're not going to die."