A third year of school is now being impacted by COVID-19, but school professionals have learned many lessons through the challenges. This new school year will continue to be affected by policy changes, mental health concerns, potential regression, and many other factors, so it's important to consider how to best keep students safe and healthy.
CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH recently said, “This return to school season is like no other. Schools must be prepared to protect children from COVID-19, while also addressing a wide array of other pandemic-related challenges returning students are facing… In addition to keeping students safe from COVID-19, they will need to provide safe and supportive school environments to promote student well-being and recovery.”
Regardless of the difficulties, there is strong evidence that students benefit from in-person learning, making a safe return to the classroom a major priority. Check out some of the major considerations that schools will need to look at this fall.
COVID-19 Considerations for Back to School
The role of school healthcare professionals has evolved since March 2020. School nurses are not only caring for students’ medication needs and acute illnesses now. Their role has evolved into acting as a health resource expert and educator in the school community. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a continued need to update processes for a safe return to school as we get more information.
Another challenge to keep in mind is the setbacks caused by less consistency and difficulties using virtual options. School professionals in speech-language pathology and occupational therapy are coping with potential regression of students’ progress due to the challenging nature of therapy over the last couple of school years.
Students’ mental and behavioral health issues have been a concern for school professionals long before the pandemic, especially school psychologists and counselors. The increased levels of anxiety, depression, and isolation have created a worsening problem for students and it has been more difficult for all children to get the support they need.
Questions about quarantine policies and infection-rate thresholds will continue to be a learning lesson for school administration. With changing recommendations from the CDC and other governing bodies, school professionals and students will have to adapt as things happen.
The CDC now recommends universal indoor masking for everyone (age 2 and older) in K-12 schools regardless of vaccination status, including students, staff, and visitors. Although masking, sanitizing, and social distancing can pose additional challenges for schools, having policies in place should help with a safe return to in-person learning.
A safe return to in-person learning and extracurricular activities includes vaccinations. Even before COVID-19, vaccines have been a part of pediatric health and a safe return to the classroom each year. As a healthcare provider, discussing immunizations is also an important part of the job.
With COVID-19 continuing to be a part of our lives, it is important to have virtual options for school and therapy for students if conditions should worsen. Although virtual is not always ideal, alternate options can make future transitions easier and prevent more complications
Current School Needs
Supplemental Health Care is currently hiring for nursing, therapy, and other school opportunities in school systems nationwide. Whether you’re looking for a school position now or just want to learn more, please contact our Schools Centers of Excellence team today at SchoolSolutions@shccares.com.