Across the country, whether class is in-person or online, going back to school has been a whirlwind. Like much of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a lot of uncertainty. In an effort to help your stresses, Culturas reached out to Dr. Richard Kang, a Los Angeles county-based pediatrician. To put future anxieties at ease, we asked all about the eventual Covid-19 vaccine and how to prepare for the resuming of in-person instruction.
What is the best kind of mask for kids?
The best kind of masks for children are the same as for adults. The CDC recommends children 2 years old and older should wear a 2-layer tightly woven cotton mask that covers the nose and mouth. For children younger than 2 years old, other precautions should be taken when out in public, such as covering the stroller or bassinet to limit exposure. To teach children the protocol, encouraging modeling of the parents behavior can be very helpful. When parents are routinely wearing masks when leaving the house, children will see this as a routine, such as putting on one’s shoes.
Besides a mask, should I equip my kid with anything else?
Hand sanitizers are helpful in preventing spread of the coronavirus. They should use hand sanitizers if the hands are not visibly dirty or if water and soap are not readily available. Hand sanitizers should be at least 60% alcohol. If the hands are visibly dirty, the CDC recommends using water and soap to wash the hands.
Do I need to do a full clean-down every day after school?
Routine cleaning and disinfecting of high touch areas, such as doorknobs, light switches and countertops is recommended. Guidelines for laundering clothes from the CDC include the careful handling of clothes of sick children, including wearing disposable gloves and not shaking the clothing of sick children. Wiping of backpacks with a disinfectant can be helpful. There is no recommendation of showering immediately upon coming home. We are still learning about the transmission rate of the coronavirus among different surfaces. The risk of spread is markedly decreased with just the washing or sanitizing of hands routinely. Also, it is important to teach children to avoid touching their mouths, noses or eyes, as these are major routes of infection.
If my child has asthma or other respiratory-related issues, should they wear a mask?
Children with asthma are at increased risk of pulmonary disease with Covid-19. They should wear a mask when in public. Of note, there is risk of triggering an asthma attack with fumes from disinfectants. Children with asthma should avoid being in rooms when they are being disinfected.
When the state announces in-person schooling can resume, should I feel nervous?
It is natural to feel nervous because, for many of us, we have never experienced this type of health crisis. The school boards should clearly delineate the plans and protocols that will be in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus among children and the teachers. This should include social distancing and the requirement of wearing masks when attending school. Other models of testing and tracing have been shown to be effective so that is the hope that it will work in the school system.
How can I talk to my kid about following all these new rules? I want them to be safe and be respectful, but I don’t want them to feel overwhelmed.
Children are more likely to want to protect others than themselves. One way to explain the importance of wearing masks to young children is to point out they will be protecting their friends and wearing masks saves lives. Comparing this to superheroes who saves lives can be an effective way to help children understand the importance of wearing masks. Having children also be involved in picking out the masks they wear can help in motivating their behavior. Activities such as drawing masks on their favorite book characters or putting masks on their favorite stuffed animal or doll can be helpful in minimizing the stress of wearing masks. Also, wearing masks with your child and looking in the mirror can help normalize the routine of wearing masks.
It seems like the COVID-19 vaccine is being made too quickly. Is that cause for concern?
As long as there is proper testing of the vaccine, including a thorough Phase 3 trial (which is the standard for approval of a vaccine), there should be little concern for the development of a vaccine. I agree that the harm of rushing a vaccine that is not thoroughly studied is not ideal.
I heard the vaccine injects you with RNA from coronavirus, which doesn’t sound safe. Is this true?
The vaccine is not a live-virus vaccine. There is no risk of infection. The RNA is the genetic material of the virus that will induce the immune response without the risk of infection. Vaccines can have adverse reactions, such as allergic reactions, but this is not unique to the coronavirus vaccines.
What are best practices I can do to keep my family safe?
The biggest weapon we have against the spread of Covid-19 is prevention of spread. Avoiding crowded public areas, social distancing, wearing masks and the routine washing or sanitizing of hands are the best practices to keep your family safe.