This school year is going to look and feel a bit different to say the least. In addition to your usual back-to-school list, here are several things that you’ll want to purchase and things you’ll want to do in preparation for this year if your child is physically going back to school. You can also download and print the PDF version of our COVID Back-to-School Checklist.
Things to Buy
Pack a travel-size hand sanitizer in your child’s bag for when washing their hands with soap and water isn’t an option.
A Spare Mask for School
Kids are kids and they’re bound to get messy. The mask that they wear leaving the house in the morning may get wet, dirty or even lost. Pack a backup!
Additional Masks for Home
Purchase a few extra masks so that your child can still have at least two available for school while others are in the laundry.
Wipes are always good to have on hand.
Travel Size Tissue
Your child may get sent home at the first sign of a runny nose but if they don’t (or until they do), a personal pack of tissues is a good idea. That way, your child is not taking from a shared supply.
Travel Size Hand Soap
You can buy a small bottle of hand soap or even portable paper soap which is less messy in that it won’t spill. These are great to have in cases where your child may have access to a bit of water, from a water bottle for example, but no soap.
You’ll want your child to stay clear of water fountains (if you didn’t already!). Sending them to school with a full and labelled water bottle is the way to go.
To minimize the chance of using shared supplies, be sure to provide your child with their own pencil case or box. Again, you’ll want to label it!
Individual Hand Wipes
These are great for lunchtime. Your child can quickly and easily clean their hands. Wipes will often leave hands feeling less sticky than hand sanitizer. They often leave less of an odour as well.
You’ll do your best to label every last thing but there’s sure to be something that needs labelling after the school year starts. If your child has a few labels in their bag, they can quickly pop them on new items they acquire throughout the year.
Regular School Supplies
And, of course, don’t forget to pack the non-COVID items! You know, those regular items that were on your list in previous years like pencils, paper, etc.
Things to Do
Review Your School’s Plan
This is a good place to start. What will school look like this Fall in your child’s school board? What procedures are they implementing? How often will they be cleaning both the indoor spaces and outdoor play areas?
Take Current Supply Inventory
As with other years, you’ll want to take an inventory of what you already have around the house. You may already have certain items and you don’t want to buy things you don’t need. For example, if your child still has their scissors from last year, no need to buy new ones!
Go nuts and label every last thing. Sharing is not caring this year, sadly.
I don’t know about you but this is our favourite part. Checking off those lists, labelling and packing school supplies. This is also a wonderful thing to do with your child and can lead to conversations about what they’re looking forward to this school year, what concerns they have and so on.
Practice Lunch Routine
Especially if your child is younger, going over their lunch routine is a must. Can they open their containers on their own? More than ever, you want to minimize instances where someone else will touch your child’s belongings. If they can open and close their lunch bag/box and containers on their own, the less likely they are to require assistance from a teacher or teacher’s assistant. Also, remind your child that they are not to share their food with anyone else or accept food from their friends.
Go Over Hand Washing
Sing a hand-washing song, count to 20… do what you need to do but go over proper hand washing techniques with your child to get them into the habit of properly washing their hands at school.
Start Wearing Your Mask Now
In some areas, mask-wearing is now mandatory in public spaces. So, your family may already be well-versed in this department. Either way, encourage your child to wear a mask around the house and when you go out so that masks become second nature. This will make it easier for your child to keep them on while at school.
Review Transportation Rules
Whether your child will be walking, biking or taking shared transportation this year, review what that will look like. What time do they need to be ready and what can they do to maintain a safe distance? Some school boards will have assigned seating on school buses and you may decide to drive them yourself to avoid increased contact with other children.
Talk About Distancing
Discuss and demonstrate how much distance you should try to maintain while around others. According to Public Health Ontario, we should all try to keep a distance of 2 metres (or 6 feet) from people outside of our social bubbles.
With a new reopening plan comes a new schedule. Review your child’s schedule with them. Not only timeframes but class arrangements. Will they be part of a cohort? Will their schedule include distance/online learning? This is more common for secondary students.