The 2020 school year is under way in most communities across Northwest Indiana, and it looks a lot different than any year before. Distanced learning, masks, attendance limits at events, and all kinds of other rules are being implemented to protect students.
Marram Health Center is committed to keeping kids safe and healthy throughout this unprecedented school year. They are offering a number of resources and advice for parents looking to make sure their kids are ready for this fall’s unique challenges.
“In our Gary office, we have three dedicated pediatric providers and other family nurse practitioners and physicians who can take care of children,” said Mindy Krsak, pediatric nurse practitioner at Marram Health Center. “If you call, it’s pretty much that day or the very next that you’ll be able to get into the office for immunizations or a school physical.”
Immunizations are one of the first things any parent needs to take care of when getting their student ready for the year – most schools require kids to stay up to date on a list of common shots. Marram Health Center’s team works hard to make sure kids stay comfortable during the process.
“We try to incorporate distraction techniques and keep them talking with us,” Krsak said. “We ask them about video games they like to play, or their favorite pets. We want them envisioning that they’re sitting there petting their dog or cat, keeping their mind off of things.”
Krsak noted that this year in particular, one of the immunizations that is not typically required is more important than ever – the flu shot.
“The flu and COVID-19 are often very similar in symptoms,” Krsak said. “If your child has gotten their flu shot, it will help a healthcare provider differentiate right away that they might have a COVID-19 case. That immunization is so important, and when you combine that with all the other immunizations we provide it will help ensure your child’s immune system is at its best in keeping them healthy.”
Classrooms might look a bit different this year as well. While some are going all digital, others are putting up dividers between desks to help limit contact. Krsak said that it is necessary that parents help their kids understand why following any new rules is important, such as wearing face coverings.
“Masks are going to be so helpful, and I recommend wearing one that has several layers in it,” she said. “Make sure they’re washing their hands before they sit down for lunch, before they touch their face or eyes or anything like that. If they’re going to sneeze or cough, teach them to do it into their elbows, blow their nose, and then wash their hands.”
With the extra stress the year will bring children, Krsak said that it is essential for parents to find ways to keep things as normal as possible in their child’s daily routines.
“I do think it is important for middle school, high school, and even elementary school kids to be with their peers, because it’s a very large component of childhood development,” she said. “So, stay home if you can, but if you are sending them out to spend time with friends make sure you’re taking precautions like wearing masks and practicing social distancing. Those interactions help to keep things as normal as possible.”
To learn more about Marram Health Center, visit www.marramhealth.org.