Addressing Back-to-School COVID-19 Concerns
By Dr. T. Jann Caison-Sorey, M.D., senior medical director, Senior Health Services, Emergent Holdings
Avoid Disease Transmission
Have an age-appropriate conversation with students about how to prevent diseases from spreading:
- Always wear a face covering and make sure it covers both your nose and mouth
- Avoid high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, and hand railings
- Don’t share items with other students
- Don’t touch the face including the nose, mouth, or eyes
- Follow good cough and sneeze etiquette
- Frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Keep a personal, alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol handy
- Stay at least six feet or more away from others
Keep Personal Belongings and Living Areas Clean
Establish daily routines focused on COVID-19 prevention for before and after school:
- After returning from school, have students immediately wash their hands
- Clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily in the home
- Pack a personal water bottle
- Pack hand sanitizer
- Pack multiple face masks labeled with the student’s name stored in a reusable container
- Practice putting on and taking off masks without touching the cloth
- Stay up to date on any notices from school or community organizations regarding COVID-19 outbreaks
- Wash reusable face masks after each day
Participate in Prevention
Students and families can help keep each other safe:
- If a student has a temperature of 99.9 F/37.8 C or higher, they should not go to school
- If a student has been exposed to a COVID-19 case, they should not go to school
- Keep in mind children and adults can be COVID-19 positive and completely asymptomatic but able to spread the virus
- Make sure students are up to date on recommended vaccines, including the seasonal flu vaccine
- Monitor students for symptoms including fever, sore throat, cough, diarrhea, severe headache, shortness of breath, or body aches
Understand the Big Picture
- Be aware of signs of stress or behavioral changes.
- Prioritize self-care and emotional well-being by building fun activities into routines.
- Be sure to take breaks, stay active, get enough sleep, and eat healthy meals.
- Prepare young children for how and why the school will be different this year.
- Withdrawal, excessive worrying or sadness, unhealthy eating, and sleeping habits or difficulty concentrating can be early signs that children and teens are stressed or experiencing anxiety.
About the Author
Dr. T. Jann Caison-Sorey, M.D., senior medical director, Senior Health Services, Emergent Holdings
Dr. T. Jann Caison-Sorey is an associate medical director of Clinical Quality and Network Management in Senior Health Services at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and clinical adjunct professor at the Wayne State University School of Medicine.
Prior to joining Blue Cross, she served as the Division Head for the Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and was a founder of the School-Based and Community Health Program at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan.
Dr. Caison-Sorey is a board-certified physician in pediatrics, Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Detroit Medical Academy, as well as an American Board of Pediatrics Diplomat. She previously served as president of the Wayne County Medical Society of Southeast Michigan and the Detroit Medical Academy.
She obtained her medical degree from the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences in Buffalo, New York, and trained at the Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, both in Bronx, New York.
Dr. Caison Sorey also holds a Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University in Mt Pleasant, Michigan, a Master of Business Administration from Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan, and a Bachelor of Science in biology/chemistry from the Winston Salem State University in North Carolina.