Just when parents were starting to get a sense of what back to school would look like this year, along comes the COVID-19 Delta variant creating uncertainty into what is best for our children’s physical health, emotional wellness and social and academic development. We spoke with Aspen Valley Primary Care’s pediatrician, Dr. Rahul Shah, who shares answers to the most frequent questions his patient’s parents are asking him.
“Parents have been asking me how the past 18 months have been affecting their children’s wellbeing and what tools they can add to their parenting skillset to guide them into the new school year. What I hear most are questions about stress, illness and what they should do to keep their kids healthy.”
“My suggestion is to remember when they were kids themselves! School can be a challenging environment for kids, even in the best circumstances. With ever-changing strategies over the past year to help keep kids safe, this school year may be the most unique one yet for most students. The stress that children face is real, so we encourage parents to stay aware of how your children are feeling. Make time after school to talk with your children to hear the good and the bad about their school day. Kids are tough and can handle change better than we give them credit for, so rather than focusing on the difficulties of a new school year, remind them of the positive aspects of seeing their peers and learning new things from their teachers. Spending time outdoors during these late summer days can serve as a wonderful break from computer screens, headphones and virtual learning.”
“Schools are under tremendous pressure to keep their students safe, now more than ever. If you are ever concerned about your child being sick, consider contacting your pediatrician’s office for help. Doctors and teachers both want kids to remain healthy so they can make the most of this school year. At Aspen Valley Primary Care, we offer our patients a 24/7 phone line so they can get their concerns answered any time of day. Oftentimes a little reassurance goes a long way to easing parental concerns, just knowing that someone will be at the end of the phone when they are unsure.”
“With the changes in incidence rates of the Delta variant in the Roaring Fork Valley, parents are asking me, ‘Is it safe to send kids back to school?’ I recommend parents to make use of reliable sources for accurate and up-to-date information:
- American Academy of Pediatrics Covid-19 Guidance for Safe Schools
- Center for Disease Control (CDC) Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools
Prepare your child for changes that may occur so that any local public health advice or order will not come as a total surprise. Communication is key to helping your child feel included in the process.”
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Focus on the Basics
“It’s hard not to get over-focused on COVID-19, but we know so much more about how the virus spreads and how to protect ourselves than we did a year ago. While we all need to keep an eye on developments, the most important thing is to focus on the basics: good nutrition, daily structure and play time outside are the bedrock to raising healthy kids.”
“If you are interested in learning more about variants and want to include your child in the conversation, the CDC has put together this short video that can be found on their Understanding Variants webpage. It demystifies variants with an overview of what they are and how they evolve. Finding age-appropriate ways to educate your kids about the Coronavirus will help them feel more in control of the world we are living in right now.”