How to Protect Your Child from COVID-19
There is no perfect solution to protect children from possible exposure to COVID-19 once they return in in-person learning. The risks can be minimized, but not eliminated. This is especially true for younger children who have difficulty understanding the importance of wearing masks and social distancing.
With that in mind, it is important for parents to teach their children how to protect themselves against contracting the virus. First, parents should encourage their child to wear a mask while at school. Many schools are requiring masks, but even if they are not, masks are important in helping to slow the spread of the virus. Parents might worry about if their child can comply with wearing a mask for long periods of time; however, there are ways for children to become comfortable with wearing one. Parents, prior to school beginning, should practice wearing a mask with their children. Increase the amount of time per day the child wears the mask until they are fully comfortable wearing it for eight hours at a time, as they would during school. Additionally, you can teach children how to properly take on and off the mask without touching their faces.
A second way for parents to protect their children is to teach their children how to properly social distance. Children will likely look forward to seeing their friends for the first time since in-person learning ended in mid-March, so it is important for parents to emphasize to their children to avoid, they best they can, any unnecessary contact or close interaction with other children and teachers. Anyone with children will understand the difficulty in this approach, but simply reminding the children of the importance of social distancing will have an impact. Parents can also teach their children different, non-contact, ways to greet classmates and practice playing games without touching one another.
Third, parents can pack their child’s lunch rather than relying on school-prepared lunches. This will limit the amount of people involved in handling the child’s food and the amount of surfaces the child must touch prior to getting the food. The surfaces include opening the fridge to get milk, grabbing the tray, and punching in their lunch number on the pad. Parents should also practice opening lunch items with their child prior to the start of school and pack easy to open food packaging. Once again, this will reduce the amount of hands that touch the child’s food.
Lastly, parents should pack portable hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial wipes for their child. In addition to encouraging frequent hand washing and sanitizing, parents should teach their child to wipe down surfaces. Students should sanitize their desk each morning, the lunch table they are eating at, computer keyboards they are using, and any other surfaces that other individuals will be touching as well. It is important, in an attempt to prevent further spread of COVID-19, for students take proactive measures to protect their own health.
These are just some suggestions for protecting children while attending in-person classes. This is by no means an exhaustive list and parents should take into consideration risk factors, including asthma and autoimmune disorders, when deciding how to approach this school year.
The return of in-person instruction brings more concerns than just those of the classroom and school building. In-person instruction brings with it the use of school buses. The Georgia statutory code (O.C.G.A.) details provisions concerning school buses and the liability associated with them. O.C.G.A. § 20-2-1090 authorizes school districts to create insurance policies to insure students in the event of an accident. Additionally, O.C.G.A. § 40-6-163 requires vehicles to stop when children are getting on or getting off school buses, and in turn penalizing drivers who do not. The pieces of legislation do not waive the sovereign immunity detailed by the Georgia’s constitution, but, rather, find ways to provide compensation for potential injuries without the school board accepting liability for negligent actions.
As school buses are under the control of the school district, school bus drivers also enjoy the same sovereign immunity as other county employees. With this said, it is up to the individual students to protect themselves from exposure to COVID-19, as there is no redress for negligent infection on the part of the bus driver. Even under the best of circumstances, it is hard to control the spread of a simple cold or the flu when children are confined to such a small space. Parents should encourage their children to space out as much as possible, wear a mask, and wipe down their seat before sitting down in order to ensure the least amount of contact with germs.
The start of school will be a new experience for parents, students, and teachers alike. Whether school is virtual or in-person, the risks of contracting COVID-19 impact the education-related decisions that parents make for their children. In addition to the typical considerations of private versus public, liability insurance, and academic curriculum, parents must now consider how facilities are addressing CDC guidelines and how to best protect their child from contracting the virus. Parents must look to executive orders, policies and regulations posted by school boards and Bright from the Start, as well as individual classroom functioning. All of these considerations are understandably overwhelming for parents, but hopefully this post provides ample resources for making an informed decision. The following resources are excellent sources of information on COVID-19 and requirements for in-person schooling:
Executive Order 06.26.20.02
Bright from the Start, COVID-19 Protocols
Georgia Department of Education, COVID-19 Protocols
Georgia Personal Injury Lawyers Offering Free Consultations
As Georgia citizens navigate through these uncertain times, the Williams Elleby legal team wants everyone to know that we are working hard to keep our offices clean and sanitary for our clients and visitors. If you or a loved one have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, we offer free consultations with our lawyers. The consultations can be in person, by phone, or virtually by Zoom. If you prefer in person meetings, please be aware that a face mask is required for the safety of our staff and guests. Simply call 833-LEGALGA (833-534-2542) to set up your consultation today.