A few months ago, it seemed like things might be going “back to normal” for students and teachers in the 2021-2022 school year. The COVID-19 vaccine was rolling out en masse and the numbers of new cases dropped dramatically in the spring of 2021. However, with the rise of the highly infectious Delta variant, things have changed quickly. The CDC is reinforcing masking guidelines and protocol for in-person learning this fall.
Here we take a look at how to create a back-to-school plan for in-person learning that keeps students, teachers, and families safe and healthy and how telemedicine in schools can help with the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses while reducing time away from learning.
Updated CDC Guidance for Schools
In July, the CDC updated its guidance for COVID-19 prevention in K-12 schools, emphasizing that safely returning to in-person classes is a priority. Recognizing that vaccination continues to be the best defense against contracting the virus and from severe illness, the CDC recommends:
- Masks for those over the age of two who have not been vaccinated.
- Maintaining at least three feet of space between students in classrooms.
- A continued emphasis on ventilation, handwashing, and respiratory etiquette.
- Staying home when sick and seeking care from healthcare providers.
As teachers, parents, and children look forward to schools opening this fall, all want to feel confident that they will be in a safe environment. Working together to practice safe habits in accordance with CDC guidance is one important way to ensure the 2021-2022 school year can be safe for all.
When you or your children get sick, though, it’s also good to know that telehealth offers new safe, and convenient options for seeking care from trusted healthcare professionals.
An Important Role for Telemedicine
Vaccines, face masks, physical distancing, and testing when symptoms for COVID-19 emerge are all important ways to stay safe—and keep others safe—as concerns about the coronavirus continue.
When symptoms emerge though, whether or not related to COVID-19, it’s helpful to know that convenient telehealth options are now widely available, offering convenience and ease of access for all. Telemedicine appointments reduce time away from work and school for parents and children. Virtual visits with qualified medical professionals can take place in real-time.
Minimizing time away from the classroom is important for learning. Students not only return to the classroom sooner, but they and their parents—and other students and teachers—benefit from the confidence and peace of mind that their health needs have been taken care of.
In school settings, school nurses or medical assistants help to determine if a telehealth visit is appropriate and can connect with a board certified practitioner right from the school. Patient portals track information about the appointment and follow-up providing easy access for parents to ensure proper follow-up and adherence to medical recommendations.
As HealthChildren.org tells us: “Schools are safe, stimulating, and enriching places for children and teens to learn. Families, schools, and communities can work together to help ensure students can safely return to and remain physically together in school this fall, where they need to be.”
Together, as we enter the new school year, we can all take steps to ensure the safety and health of ourselves and others by following the guidelines presented here. It’s up to all of us.