It’s Far from Back to Normal
Sending kids back to school at the end of summer is a ritual many parents look forward to. This year as cases of COVID-19 surge in many communities, parents are asking themselves not only what will the school year look like – remote, in-person or a hybrid? – but how will they keep their child and their family safe? Adding allergies and asthma to the risks being faced adds another layer of concern.
Below are six factors to consider as you prepare your child with allergies or asthma for a school year that includes being in a classroom with other children.
1. Breathing well with a mask
No one loves wearing a mask, and some with asthma feel that masks make breathing more difficult. Theoretically, masks should not impair the breathing of a child with asthma. Try to get your child used to wearing a mask while they are still at home – maybe an hour or two a day. The more routine it is for them, the easier it will be once they are back in the classroom. Wearing a mask may be especially difficult for kids with special needs, and your school district may have protocols in place in those situations.
2. Got a fever? Stay home
Your school district probably already has rules regarding not sending your child to school with a fever. One of the primary symptoms of COVID-19 is a fever, so if your child is running a temperature, it is important to keep them home, away from other children, and monitor their symptoms.
3. Allergy symptoms probably will not go away
While it would be great if mask-wearing prevented allergens from having an effect on your child, their allergy to pollen, dust mites, mold or pets probably will not go away.
4. Keep the flu away!
It is vital that your child stays healthy, and that includes making sure they get a flu vaccine. Many people with egg allergy fear the flu vaccine, but ACAAI says it is safe, even for those with egg allergy. The vaccine contains only trace amounts of egg, not enough to cause a reaction. Especially for kids with asthma, the flu vaccine is important to their health during the winter.
5. What did you bring?
Many schools are asking kids to eat a bagged lunch from home at their desk rather than to go to a cafeteria with loads of other children. If your child has food allergies, encourage them to, as usual, not trade foods with anyone and stick to what you have packed.
6. Round up the usual suspects
Although COVID is a big worry this year, kids with allergies and asthma still must find ways to stay healthy by avoiding the things that bring on their symptoms. As you do every year, make sure the school nurse and your child’s teacher have a copy of their asthma management plan. If your child is sneezing, wheezing or having runny eyes and noses more than usual, talk with your child to see if there are times of day or areas in the school that appear to make symptoms worse. An “allergy audit” might help alleviate some of your child’s suffering in the classroom and make for a happier school year.
If your child’s classroom has been cleared of allergens as much as possible and they are still suffering from symptoms, it is time to see an allergist.
Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, acaai.org