Earlier this month, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement recommending that students be physically present in school this fall. Schools provide more than just academic instruction; they help provide social interaction, physical activities, and even regular meals for children.

Naturally, many parents are concerned about the safety and well-being of their children as states work to make a plan to keep kids as safe as possible when they do return to the classroom. Here are some questions you can ask your school and steps you can take to ensure the greatest success for your child and his or her classmates.

What steps is the school taking to ensure the safety of the students?
- Will distancing measures be practiced, such as desks being kept 3-6 feet apart?
- Are you requiring masks for children who cannot keep more than 6 feet apart and requiring masks for all adults?
- Will everyone be required to wash their hands regularly, and will common areas be regularly sanitized?
- Can lunches be eaten at students’ desks rather than the cafeteria, and can teachers move from class to class while students remain in one room all day?

How will the school support the physical and mental health of students, and how will you address the stigma against people who have been sick?
- Will guidance counselors be available to talk to students who have fears and concerns?
- What messages will be conveyed directly and indirectly regarding people who have been sick with COVID, and how will this be accomplished?

What do you plan to do for students who have fallen behind?
- Will students be given refresher courses or the opportunity to participate in after school programs or supplemental assignments at home?

What can I do to support the school’s safety plan and programs?
- How can I help my child come prepared mentally, physically, and emotionally, and how can I support his or her teacher in making the classroom as safe as possible for all students?

As always, having regular communication with your child’s teacher and other school staff will be instrumental in ensuring his or her success and safety.

For more information about sending your child back to school safely, visit HealthyChildren.org.

To read the AAP’s COVID-19 Planning Considerations: Guidance for School Re-entry, click here.