As school is in the process of beginning, this new stage in our pandemic experience can be met with fear, anxiety, uncertainty, anger, etc…. or, this can be an opportunity to teach our children (and ourselves!) important life lessons in being flexible, adaptable, responsible, and serve as a positive role model to each other.
For this transition to be as safe and as successful as possible, it takes a village. No single intervention is 100% effective, but by including masks, distancing, hand hygiene and other creative strategies, we can minimize transmission and make it as safe as possible. Despite our best efforts, prepare yourself, as transmission is bound to occur. Yet, how we address it and handle it when it does occur is key.
Schedules, routines, masks, social interactions, unexpected changes to work schedules and sick days and quarantine days are all things that we will have to be flexible and adaptable to during this unpredictable time. For employers, recognizing that employees who are parents or household members of school-age children may need to have more flexibility with work from home days, sick leave, etc. Each community makes the best decisions it can with the information it has at that specific time. Recognize that rules and guidelines may change as we learn more and COVID-19 changes within the community. Be prepared to go back to virtual learning if the virus spreads above safe threshold for in-person school.
It is OUR duty to be responsible as we prepare for this transition. It is important to continue social distancing and mask use at school and outside of the home and practice good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. Students and employees should not come to school or work if they:
- Have a temperature >100 degrees F, chills, new onset cough, shortness of breath, body/muscle aches, loss of taste/smell, severe fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, new onset runny nose or sore throat.
- Have a household member sick with COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19 infection, or high risk exposure.
If needed, quarantine for the appropriate amount of time as advised by a healthcare provider and/or health department, depending on the onset and persistence of symptoms.
It is just as important to be a positive role model to those around you. Parents’ attitudes will influence those of their children, childrens’ attitudes will influence those of their peers, and teachers’ attitudes will influence those of their students and colleagues.
The better we all do at following the guidelines, the more likely in-person school will be successful and safe, while also keeping in mind the importance of instilling flexibility and adaptability into our and our children’s behaviors and attitudes. Together, we can keep eastern Montana safe.