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Preparing for Back to School

Preparing for Back to School

After a year of full or partial distance learning, many students will be headed back into a physical classroom this fall. In a recent Mayo Clinic Minute, Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a pediatric infectious diseases physician at Mayo Clinic Children's Center, offers some tips for a healthy school year. 

"Going into the school year, it's probably going to be another kind of challenging year for kids and families,” explains Dr. Rajapakse.  

She says making sure your child has a healthy return to school starts with having conversations. 

"Let them know what to expect when they return to school," she says. 

For example, talk about if people will be wearing masks and if they will be expected to wear a mask. If your student is eligible, talk with him or her about COVID-19 vaccinations. 

young women sitting in a science lab with masks

It's not just important to prepare them for COVID-19 to go back to school. Dr. Rajapakse says trends continue to show kids 12 and younger are falling behind in other childhood vaccinations. 

"This is a really great time, in the weeks leading up to return to school, to make sure your child, even if they can't get the COVID-19 vaccine, is up to date on all other routine vaccinations." 

She also suggests parents pay attention to their kid's mental health as they adjust to returning to the classroom. 

three college age students sitting in an auditorium during a lecture

"We've seen a significant increase in mental health issues in children and teenagers over the pandemic ― increases in depression, anxiety and social isolation. There is quite the adjustment that we expect kids will need to make, especially those who were (participating in) fully online schooling all of last year," says Dr. Rajapakse. 

Don't hesitate to talk to your child's primary care physician if you notice any concerns. Click here to schedule an appointment online, or call 701.780.2587. 

As a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, Altru Health System has access to Mayo Clinic knowledge, resources and expertise. This includes collaborating with Mayo Clinic specialists on the COVID-19 pandemic.