Local expert, father discusses getting kids safely back to school

Posted at 5:04 AM, Jul 28, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Getting kids back to school is always stressful. This year COVID-19 is adding several new obstacles.

"I think the mental, social and anxiety component of what has happened is really important to acknowledge", says Dr. Stephen Turkovich. "It has effected everyone".

Dr. Turkovich is the Chief Medical Officer at Oishei Children's Hospital in Buffalo.

He is also a father, so he says he understands the conversations families are having. Dr. Turkovich says if parents are questioning whether or not to send their child back to school they should start with the numbers.

"Everyone needs to be looking at the prevalence of COVID-19 in your community. We can't really consider sending kids back to in person education unless the rate of COVID is very low," Dr. Turkovich said.

If the numbers stay low Dr. Turkovich says parents also need to feel comfortable with their schools COVID-19 safety plan in terms of social distancing and the wearing of masks.

"The biggest change is going to be the masking. It is going to be more challenging for small children tolerating the masks", said Dr. Turkovich. "The more you can do to get them used to it. My children started baseball so masking has become a normal thing at baseball diamonds especially among spectators. My youngest son who is spectating wears a mask the whole time. He does fine. The good news is the evidence shows that kids less than 10 are much less likely to be spreading the disease."

Dr. Turkovich says when it comes to COVID-19 and kids a large percentage can be asymptomatic. Still there are things that parents should be monitoring.

"Other very common symptoms would be a fever greater than 100.4 degrees, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea things like that. Another thing we see is headaches," Dr. Turkovich said.

Dr. Turkovich suggests having important conversations with your children now about how school will be different come fall.

"It's important to talk to your kids about it in an open and honest way. Teach them what they can do to keep themselves safe. Teach them this is the normal routine thing that you should do. Washing your hands frequently. Making sure they know how to wash their hands. Wearing a mask. Socially distancing. Teach them these are solutions. They are positive things. They are going to keep them safe," Dr. Turkovich said.