The New Back-to-School Supplies: A Guide for Parents During the Pandemic
Heading off to school this year may call for some adjustments to your shopping list. Along with freshly sharpened pencils and a brand-new backpack comes an assortment of gear designed to protect your child in the wake of COVID-19. But before you hit the stores in person or online, experts say it makes sense to first talk to your child about how to adopt safe practices.
"As a parent, I try to explain that things are still uncertain at this time, but there will be some things that will be different when they're at school," says Jacqueline A. Vernarelli, assistant professor of public health at Sacred Heart University. She recommends letting kids pick out their own masks and wearing them around the house to get used to the feeling.
Creating a healthy home plan together is another way to acclimate kids to changes ahead. "Have kids be involved wherever possible, whether it's thinking of a 'backpack spot' (avoid tables or countertops where food is served and prepared) or washing their masks every day," says Sacred Heart University clinical assistant professor of public health Sofia Pendley. In addition to stocking up on enough face coverings to last between washes, she recommends an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60 percent) that can be clipped to a backpack.
Aside from keeping hands clean, remind kids to hydrate safely. "Making sure kids have their own water bottles will be helpful to limit the risk of infection from water fountains shared by other children," says Rachel Prete, DO, pediatrician at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. Washable lunchboxes and backpacks that can be thrown into the laundry are also a smart choice.
With these suggestions in mind, here are of our favorite school supplies for ushering in the new normal: