COVID-19 has flipped our world on its axis, and students are some of the most affected by the pandemic. Uncertainty surrounds classrooms and whether or not distance learning is the best option. Depending on the school district, kids will either be attending school online, in person, or a mix of the two. If you or your children have returned to the classroom, it’s important to be diligent and proactive about your health.

Communicating with school administrators about their plans for protective measures will help you know what actions to take at home. Schools and districts may release information about changes made and rules enforced, but it’s still a good idea to check with teachers within the first week about what you can do to help ensure a safe environment. Along with communicating with administrators, you will also want to keep communication open within your home. Talk with your spouses, family members, children, or roommates about protocols and how to keep each other safe from possible exposures.

You have more control over what happens in your own home than you do with school settings. By closely monitoring the health of everyone in the household, you’ll be able to detect if any symptoms arise. Make sure to clean and sanitize backpacks, laptops, school supplies and masks daily, if you can. Having multiple masks available to you and your children will allow you to wash them regularly without worrying about one being clean in time for the next school day.

Implementing hygiene rules for hand-washing at home will encourage kids to maintain them throughout the school day. Teaching mask etiquette to your children will help them build the habit of wearing it responsibly. Show them how to properly cover their mouth and nose (a great opportunity to teach anatomy of the respiratory system), take the mask on and off (by the straps, not the fabric), and make sure they know that masks will help slow the spread of COVID-19. Teach them not to ever trade masks with their friends, and continue positive discussion of masks and the benefit of wearing them.

Whether you’re attending school or are the caretaker of someone who is, applying these practices to your daily routine will help keep you healthy and reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. While we can’t control what others do to avoid the virus, we can take initiative to implement these methods and more in our homes and at schools.