COVID-19 guidance for parents of schoolkids

The start of the school year is aligning with another surge in COVID-19 infections, and it’s bringing renewed uncertainty for families in back-to-school mode.

Dr. Amanda Kost hears the concerns of many of these families firsthand as the clinical director of the Family Medicine Clinic at Harborview.

Her advice: Expect the unexpected.

“Being prepared for knowing that you don't know what's going to happen is helpful.  That's going to be the conversation I'm going to have with my kids,” says Kost.  Her pep talk focuses on all that students have already overcome: “You have proven that you were able to do it last year.  I have confidence that you can do it this year.”

Washington state’s current plan requires all schools to offer in-person learning for the coming school year while also mandating masks for all teachers, staff and students – regardless of vaccination status.  Kost suggests that families ramp up children's mask-wearing during summer's closing weeks so it doesn't seem like such a tall order to be masked all day when school starts.  

Recent studies suggest kids may be the best age group to wear masks consistently.

“When I say kids are cool with masks, the data backs it up,” says Kost. “I do think that it's important for parents to know that, especially for kids that are under the age of 12 that can't be vaccinated, the mask is really our best line of defense against their kids getting sick – and against their kids potentially spreading COVID to other people, even if they don't get sick or have symptoms.”

UW Medicine