The back-to-school season is always an exciting and stressful time for kids and parents alike. This school year, as the delta variant of COVID-19 becomes more prevalent, is even more stressful.
So, how do we keep our kids safe?
Experts recommend physical distancing practices, regular hand washing, disinfecting and proper ventilation. Practical items like masks are also recommended for kids heading back to the classroom, while stress-relieving items like sensory toys paired with relaxation techniques are also beneficial.
That’s why we asked the experts for their top back-to-school items to help keep kids safe and healthy.
Crayola Kids Face Mask
School systems throughout the country have varying guidelines about mask-wearing as kids, teachers, staff and administrators return to school. Some school districts have a strict mask policy in place.
However, according to CDC guidelines, “Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age [two] and older) who are not fully vaccinated. Consistent and correct mask use by people who are not fully vaccinated is especially important indoors and in crowded settings, when physical distancing cannot be maintained.”
An updated CDC guideline adds, “CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.”
There are plenty of masks to choose from, however, CDC experts recommend cloth masks made of tightly woven materials that have two to three layers. The masks shouldn’t gape, have vents or exhalation valves, but they should be breathable.
These fun, colorful Crayola kids’ face masks check all of those boxes.
Simple Modern Kids Lunch Box
Before the pandemic, high school lunchtime was a time to socialize with your friends and hear the latest hot gossip. Oh, and scarf down your food in about five minutes. Middle and elementary school lunchtime was all about trading your Fruit By The Foot for coveted Dunkaroos.
Now, most students eat in pods with their classmates, and trading and sharing are highly discouraged.
Nancy Belcher, Ph.D., and CEO of Winona, a female-founded wellness company, states, “Bringing a lunch daily as opposed to buying lunch will help minimize direct contact with items or people who may carry the virus and don’t know it.”
Belcher adds, “It’s important to remain vigilant about not letting your child share snacks either, as that can also promote the spread of germs.”
We found this ideal Simple Modern lunchbox to help.
Jardme Essential Oil Diffuser Bracelet
To say that the last year and a half has been difficult for everyone, especially our school-aged children, would be an understatement. Our collective mental health has taken a hit, and finding healthy ways to deal with stress and anxiety is a big issue.
“It’s a good idea to have kids start doing relaxation exercises or meditations at home,” Olivine says. “While they’re getting relaxed they can wear an essential oil bracelet with lavender oil to link relaxation with the bracelet. They can then wear the bracelet to school. The scent and bracelet will be a signal to the brain to help them get and stay relaxed.”
Parents and teachers should encourage regular hand washing and proper hygiene. Hand sanitizer is most likely available for students in the classroom, but for all those times in between, like bus rides and recess, having their own hand sanitizer will be helpful. The CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Having hand sanitizer accessible on a wristlet, like the ones listed below, will ensure your kid has it if they need it. When it’s not needed, they can just clip it onto their backpack or purse.
While sensory toys and fidgets have become more mainstream since the fidget-spinner craze of 2017, these “toys” actually serve a great purpose.
Sensory toys are a great outlet for anxious energy and can help manage stress. Along with journaling or talking with a trusted adult or therapist, kids’ use of sensory toys can help them manage their mental health as they go back to school.
“One of the most widespread negative effects of the pandemic is stress and fear,” Olivine says. “It’s essential for kids to have a way to help themselves feel better before their thoughts become overwhelming. Stress and anxiety toys and journals can help, along with talking about what they are going through and learning skills to manage their minds.”