Work Hard & Be Kind
August 24, 2021
Dear Parents and Guardians:
As we prepare for the start of the new school year, the Hillside School Health Office would like to provide families with an opportunity to learn more about the spread of COVID-19 and provide some additional steps that parents and guardians can take to help keep our classrooms safe.
You are invited to join a free webinar from Hackensack Meridian Children’s Health: “Parent/Guardian Talk Series: The Rule Book on Back to School in 2021”. The New Jersey Department of Health is providing an excellent Facebook Live Event on August 26th at 12:30 pm. Parents will be able to ask questions of a panel of trusted healthcare professionals who will be addressing concerns about the Delta variant considerations and hygiene best practices for a new school year. The panel participants include NJSSNA Education Chair and Elementary School nurse, Dr. Cynthia Samuel, NJSSNA President-Elect, and High School Nurse, Eileen Gavin, New Jersey Health Commissioner, Judith Persichelli, Health Department Special Advisor and Pediatrician, Dr. Meg Fisher, and COVID Lead, NJDOE, Colleen Shulz-Eskow.
• Understand how children are affected by the Delta variant.
• Review if older vaccinated children can infect unvaccinated family/friends.
• Learn real-life best hygiene practices for the classroom, lunchtime, and home.
• Identify ways to talk and reassure your child about the new school year.
This free webinar is approximately 45 minutes and will include a question and answer portion. Please use the following link to register for the event: https://events.hackensackmeridianhealth.org/event/4f46525d-b93b-4ef6-babe-a4fc1c504406/summary
Parents can review the guidelines the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) issued in July 2021 for preventing the spread of COVID-19 in Kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms.
Here are additional steps you can take prior to the start of the school year to help keep your child safe.
Get a Physical
During the pandemic, many families put off well visits and physicals, including annual visits to the pediatrician. If your child has fallen behind on a regular well check, now is the time to schedule, especially before the school year begins.
“Children, preteens, and teens all need regular checkups with their doctor, who can identify any health concerns early on,” says Dr. Niketakis-Wujciak. “During these annual visits, your doctor can make sure your child’s development is on track, talk about nutrition and exercise needs, and check on your child’s emotional well-being.”
Stay Up-to-Date on Vaccines
Similarly, rates of routine vaccination among children and teens dropped significantly in 2020, and even after stay-at-home orders were lifted, according to a CDC report from June 2021. “It’s incredibly concerning that so many kids have missed important routine vaccines, including vaccines for some potentially deadly diseases,” says Dr. Niketakis-Wujciak. “If your child or teen has missed a scheduled vaccine, make an appointment to get caught up before the school year starts.”
Just as in past years, children of all ages should get a flu shot this fall. COVID-19 and the seasonal flu likely will be circulating at the same time once again during the 2021-2022 winter. The flu shot will provide protection against the seasonal bugs that cause the flu.
Mask When Necessary
In early August 2021, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced a mask mandate for schools—applicable to all students, staff and visitors. While the Delta variant is surging—and because many schools serve children under the age of 12 who are not currently eligible for vaccination—masks while indoors in schools are vital for protecting both students and teachers.
Continue to Emphasize Good Hygiene
Continue to encourage your kids to practice good hygiene at school and at home:
· Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water
· Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available
· Cough or sneeze into the elbow
Make Sure Adults at Home Are Vaccinated
While kids under the age of 12 can’t get vaccinated, it’s even more important for adults to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Fully vaccinated adults are less likely to spread the virus and infect children.
Somerset County Department of Health: This website includes information about local vaccination clinics, COVID-19 testing, Somerset County COVID-19 Information Hub, and the Somerset County COVID-19 Information Dashboard, link to the website: https://www.co.somerset.nj.us/government/public-health-safety/health-department--
For questions or concerns, please contact the Hillside School Health Office at (908) 231-1905 ext. 447102.