Ask Dr. Meg: How can I safely send my child back to school during Covid?

Sending your child back to school during Covid might feel scary, but there's less to worry about than you think.
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Last Updated
April 22, 2019
posted on
September 15, 2021
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5 minutes
Minute Read

Dr. Meg,

I’m worried about sending my child back to school during Covid. I’m worried about him getting sick. At the same time, I’m worried about him wearing a mask all day, having to stay away from his friends, and how all of this will affect him. What advice do you have for parents sending their kids back to school? 

Covid has been troubling for all of us, and I know it is especially troubling for you right now as schools are open again. Unfortunately, physicians don’t agree on how to handle everything and neither do medical researchers. Some believe masks are the way while research shows they may not be the most effective method for preventing spread. The media dogmatically claims that one side is wrong and the other right when really, we just don’t know.

The truth is none of us is OK living with not knowing. But during a time like this, we have to be. Fortunately, there are a few things we do know about kids and Covid. Keep these in mind as your child transitions back to school.

  • Covid infections in young children are relatively rare and even more rarely life-threatening.
  • The majority of serious infections are occurring in non-vaccinated people. That, of course, includes kids. We have seen kids getting Covid more frequently, but we don’t know if this is the original Covid or a different strain. If kids get Covid, the overwhelming majority get an illness that lasts several days, and then it goes away.
  • Make sure to teach your kids good preventative hygiene like washing their hands, using sanitizing gel, etc.
  • Good hygiene is important, but I strongly disagree with kids being told to treat classmates as lepers. We do far more damage to our kids by telling them to avoid others and see them as people who should never be touched than we do by letting our kids live their lives.
  • If your child is over 12, strongly consider vaccinating them. This is a hot-button issue and I understand that. The vaccine hasn’t been used in teens for very long, and parents want to wait and see how kids react before they vaccinate their own kids. This is not unreasonable. There are some concerns about side effects, but they are very rare. One of them is myocarditis, an inflammation in the lining of the heart, in adolescent boys. The overwhelming majority of boys don’t die from this. They recover. You will see videos of people overstating both the incidence and death rate from myocarditis but go to a good medical source to get accurate information. Abundant and ridiculous claims about Covid vaccines abound on the internet. PLEASE do not pay attention. They exist for one reason: to scare you and this is immoral. Get your information from a sound medical site like WebMD, the CDC, the NIH, or the VAER (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting). Would I vaccinate my 18-year-old son? Yes.

As your child goes back to school, do not be afraid and do not let him be afraid. Covid will pass, and the chances of your child getting severely sick from it are small. I am confident children can have a successful and healthy year back in the classroom.

 


Dr. Meg Meeker, MD

Practicing pediatrician, parent, grandparent, coach, speaker, and author. Say hello @MegMeekerMD

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