When the last school bell rings at the end of the day, the bubbles we have created at school burst. The effort to keep our students and staff safe in schools across the country is negated when the adults in our students’ lives continue to make unsafe choices after school. It is disheartening, to say the least, to see the surge of the coronavirus when we did not have to get here. We recognize it is complicated. We all want our kids to have some normalcy, but casual gatherings after school and on weekends can clearly spread the virus and dilute public health efforts.
School nurses are risking their own lives to protect the health and safety of students and school staff. We need community cooperation. Why is this such an impossible ask? I can pontificate about the lack of a national response from failed leadership, but that is just exhausting. Since all health is actually local, I am pleading with family, friends, neighbors, and community members to follow the 6W’s, it’s all we have for now:
Wear a mask – This must be universally observed. We may not have a mask mandate right now but we can make the safest choice. Masks protect you and me, your children, and your family members. New clusters are happening in small gatherings with people not in our immediate households, that is why we are having this surge.
Watch your distance – 6 feet equals the length of a refrigerator laying on its side. We must not share air space with anyone but those in our immediate household. Avoid indoor gatherings, even small ones unless it with those already in your house.
Wash your hands – Hand hygiene is critical. Do your best to wash your hands multiple times a day, especially after coming in contact with high touch areas. Your eyes, nose, and mouth are direct access points for this deadly virus. Keep your hands clean and away from your face.
When you are sick or your child is sick, stay home – We can stop the spread of the virus by not infecting others. This is especially important at school, please keep your children home if they have the symptoms as outlined by the CDC, even if they seem like a common cold or allergies. Right now, nothing is common or certain when it comes to symptoms that could be COVID19. Please follow the guidelines specified by your school district. Because we do not have a national response, the policies and procedures may vary from district to district.
When the health department calls, answer the phone and cooperate – Your child’s school nurse, if you are fortunate enough to have one, may be initiating contact tracing in your school district. We are limited to the type of information we can share, but trust that you are being contacted to protect your child, family members, and the community at large. Please cooperate with whoever calls you on behalf of local health departments. We are not trying to invade your privacy, but are working tirelessly to limit the spread through quarantining and/or isolating individuals who are either close contacts or have tested positive.
Windows and doors – Leave them open to promote airflow – The mechanism for the spread of the coronavirus are respiratory droplets that pass from person to person, especially indoors where there is minimal air circulation. There is an indication from the CDC that the virus may be airborne in certain circumstances. This is still under investigation.
It is heartbreaking to watch the numbers tick up each and every day. We are going in the wrong direction. The immediate action we can take is to wear a mask when we are with people outside of those who live in our household. We can save close to 100,000 lives by the simple act of wearing a mask. It is not complicated, invasive, or risky. Not wearing one is.