FHN Experts Talk About Going Back to School Safely

August 25, 2020 – FHN President and CEO Mark Gridley MBA, FACHE and Infection Preventionist Margie Kochsmier MSN, RN, CMSRN discuss keeping kids safe as they go back to school in the latest FHN COVID-19 update video.

“Anyone, of any age, can get COVID-19, and can spread the virus, even if they don't have any symptoms,” Kochsmier said. “So it's important that parents serve as good role models for their children and practice safe social distancing, masking, and handwashing at home.”

Keep your children informed about what's happening, but don't scare them, Kochsmier advised. Instead, choose fun masks and help young students remember social distancing guidelines with comparisons to putting their arms out in front of them or a hula hoop.

Kochsmier urges parents to continue wiping down high-touch surfaces in the home, as this simple action can help families avoid spreading not just COVID-19, but colds and flu germs as well.

Gridley and Kochsmier also remind parents that, even if their student is attending classes virtually, he or she needs to have a physical exam and verification of their immunizations before entry into preschool, kindergarten, sixth grade, and ninth grade.

“Our provider offices are open and safe to visit, so don't hesitate to make an appointment with your child's pediatrician to make sure they are up-to-date on immunizations,” Gridley said.

School districts in northwest Illinois are following Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines for school opening, which are more stringent than the Centers for Disease Control guidelines. If a child is sent home sick, he or she will need to have been fever free without medications for at least 10 days as well as have a negative COVID-19 test and a letter from his or her healthcare provider.

“We are hopeful that these careful precautions will help us control the spread of COVID-19 as schools open up in person,” Gridley said.

The video, along with all of the previous weeks' videos, is available on FHN's COVID-19 information site, www.fhn.org/coronavirus.

FHN, a not-for-profit organization with nearly 1,200 employees, is an award-winning regional healthcare system committed to the health and well-being of the people of northwest Illinois and southern Wisconsin. FHN Memorial Hospital has been recognized as one of the state's top hospitals for safety by the Leapfrog group and Healthgrades as well as by the world's largest, completely independent, non-profit product- and service-testing organization. FHN caregivers serve an average of 1,500 people each day across FHN's 19 locations in 5 counties spanning northwest Illinois. Organized in 1995 as an integrated healthcare delivery system, FHN is comprised of FHN Memorial Hospital, the Leonard C. Ferguson Cancer Center at FHN Memorial Hospital, 13 family healthcare centers offering primary and specialty medical care, hospice, and outpatient mental health services. For more information about FHN, please visit www.fhn.org.