What you should know heading back to school and in the event of an outbreak: MLHU

Getting kids ready for their back-to-school routine usually takes time. But this year, with the pandemic and longer break, there’s added changes for kids and parents. File / Global News

With most students returning to the class soon, the Middlesex London Health Unit (MLHU) has created a list of safety tips for returning students and what do do in the event of an outbreak.

The MLHU has outlined everything parents need to know about returning to school like transportation, proper hygiene, and mental health supports on their website.

“School will be different this year due to COVID-19, and many of these changes will be new, potentially confusing or frustrating, and challenging for many families,” a statement from the health unit said.

“It’s okay to be scared, that’s normal. But we want you to know that we are working very closely with the school boards in our region to ensure it’s as safe as possible.”

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Parents can find links to all the relevant school boards and government websites, directing people to the specific information they need.

As students return to class, the MLHU is reminding them about the importance of proper hygiene, like washing their hands frequently and sneezing into selves or tissue to prevent the spread of germs.

The health unit is also reminding returning students that both the Thames Valley District School Board and the London District Catholic School Board have also made it mandatory for children in Kindergarten to Grade 12 to wear a mask or face covering.

The province has mandates that all students in Grade 4 and up must all wear a mask.

The MLHU recommends parents try putting masks on toys and make it a fun activity to teach younger children about wearing one. Parents can also have children look at videos and pictures. They say it can also help to get masks with fun patterns and colours.

It is also suggested that parents talk to their kids about the importance of physical distancing and use visual queues like couch cushions, a bed or pool noddle to understand what two metres apart looks like.

Back to school checklist
Back to school checklist. MLHU

In the event of an outbreak, the province said it would be up to the individual health unit to declare it. An outbreak is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in students or staff in a school within a 14-day period with at least one case contracted at the school (including transportation and before or after school care.)

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The province’s website said the health unit will determine which cohorts are at high risk and should be sent home or if a full school closure is required depending on the size fo the outbreak.

Students in the Thames Valley and London District Catholic School Boards will not start going back to class until Sept. 14, and students in elementary schools would be staggered returning to class.

A staggered start for elementary students attending in person means each school will divide their student population into two groups.

The first group will attend school on Monday, Sept. 14 and Tuesday, Sept. 15, while the second will attend on Wednesday, Sept. 16 and Thursday, Sept. 17. All students would attend on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020.

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