Real Life

Back to School? How to Keep Your Children Safe During COVID-19

The new school year is upon us, and a lot needs to happen in order to ensure that our kids are learning in an optimal and safe environment... without the risk of spreading COVID-19. Here are some tips.
by Shannan Seely August 27, 2020

As a mom of two girls, I wonder about the upcoming school year. I’ve been checking for coronavirus updates on my state governor’s office website regularly. I don’t envy what school administrators are tasked with right now.

But parenting during a pandemic is a big responsibility, too. 

Yesterday, I read an article from another mom who shared her struggle about raising sons during COVID-19. Oh yeah, I could relate. And I don’t think it’s just me considering all of this. These questions are on every school-aged parent’s mind in America: will our children return to school this fall? And if they do, how do we keep them safe?

Meanwhile, back-to-school spending is a certainty, pandemic or not. And honestly, it’s times like these that I’m really thankful to have a health savings account (HSA). It means that with so much going on, and lots of money to be spent, my family has a tax-free way to pay for the eligible medical expenses we, without a doubt, always run into.

So whether my daughters return to modified in-person instruction or fully remote learning, here’s what I’m doing to keep my children safe during COVID-19 as we get ready for back to school.

The Breakdown

Designate a launchpad. I love this idea from Laura Vanderkam to create an “unloading/loading zone” in the house. When children return from school, I’ll have them stick to one place for water bottles, backpacks, instruments, textbooks, coats, jackets, and gym bags. Then, they can grab and go in the morning. Looking forward to not hearing, “Mom, do you know where my phone is?” This will also be handy if a child gets sick and we need to sanitize their stuff.

Get ready for school sports. The girls have been exercising all summer to be ready for sports tryouts. With physical exertion, comes strains and sprains, so we’ve been buying supplies (see back-to-school health supplies below) already. We’re collecting our receipts to have them reimbursed by our HSA in the future. These supplies add up! Happy to say, they’ve had their sports physicals, so the paperwork is ready to go!

Schedule wellness exams. So that’s something I definitely want to get on the calendar. I’ve noticed that keeping informed on what vaccinations they need is a challenge because they’re growing so fast. And guidelines do change even in a few years. Plus, confirming they’re up-to-date does give me peace of mind. I’ll put a reminder on my calendar to get flu shots before flu season. Always a good idea, but so important this year. 

Set appointments for eye exams. According to a review of past vision research studies, significant evidence suggests there’s an association between poor learning and vision problems in children. I know this firsthand, as getting new eyeglasses helped change a blurry blackboard to sentences I could read when I was in elementary school.

Since my daughters will likely be viewing more screens instead of smartboards, I need to arrange for eye exams. (As my oldest daughter says, “Thanks for the poor eyesight genes, Mom and Dad!” It’s a shame she doesn’t give us credit for socking away money in our HSA account to pay for the portion not covered by insurance for eyeglasses, contact lenses and contact lens solution. Thanks HSA!

Purchase back-to-school health supplies. I checked what items on my list are covered by a health savings account. Quite a few! You can view HSAStore’s updated list here.

    • Allergy medicine
    • Contact lens**
    • Contact lens solution
    • Elastic bandages
    • Eyeglasses**
    • Feminine care products
    • First aid kit
    • Over-the-counter pain relief (ibuprofen, acetaminophen)
    • Heat & Cold packs
    • Sinus medication
    • Sunscreen
    • Thermometer

Don’t forget COVID-19 necessities. Last but not least, shop for items like hand sanitizer, masks, and disposable paper towels in our bathrooms. No, they’re not eligible healthcare expenses but recommended by health experts. So a few extras will be needed. Perhaps I’ll buy them in the school’s colors

So that’s my list. Although, I do confess that I’ll be adding reminders as the first day of school approaches. If a mom doesn’t obsess, who will?

Glad that frequently washing our hands has become a habit. If you’d like a refresher on handwashing, check out The Epic Hand Washing Parody. Yes, your kids may roll their eyes, but that’s okay. You’re cool… even if they don’t tell you!

**Eligible with a doctor’s prescription

Take the first step
in taking care of you.