COVID-19: Resources for Parents and Guardians

On August 11, 2022, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it's streamlining its COVID-19 guidance to help people better understand their risk, how to protect themselves and others, what actions to take if exposed to COVID-19, and what actions to take if they are sick or test positive for the virus. DHS is currently reviewing CDC updates and will update our guidance accordingly.

Parents and Son YSTSThis page connects parents and guardians with information and resources to support their family’s health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC’s COVID-19 Community Levels are an additional tool to help you make decisions to minimize the impact COVID-19 has on our health care systems, while also keeping Wisconsin children healthy, safe, and in school.


Protect your child against COVID-19

We recognize that some people may not have the resources and privileges that allow them to engage in some prevention practices. Follow these steps as much as possible to keep your child healthy, safe, and in school.

  • Get your child vaccinated. Everyone ages 6 months and older should get vaccinated and everyone 5 years and older should get boosted for the best protection against COVID-19. Make sure your family is up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Ensure your child wears a mask or respirator. Children ages 2 and older should wear a well-fitting mask in all public indoor settings, including schools if you live in a county with a High COVID-19 Community Level. Masks are not necessary in schools and other public indoor settings if you are in a county with either a Low or Medium COVID-19 Community Level. Masks and respirators continue to be an effective strategy to prevent COVID-19 infection so continue to wear one if it makes you feel safer, regardless of your county’s COVID-19 Community Level.
  • Get your child tested for COVID-19. Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested and stay home while they wait for results, regardless of their vaccination status. If your child is exposed to COVID-19, they should get tested at least 5 days after exposure. See options for COVID-19 testing.
  • Quarantine and isolate. Keeping your child home when they are sick helps stop the spread of COVID-19. Work with your school on virtual learning options for your child if they feel well enough to continue learning but are unable to be physically present in the classroom.
  • As a parent or guardian, get your vaccine and booster dose. COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses help keep you from getting severely sick, being hospitalized, or dying from COVID-19.
  • Make sure your child washes their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or that they use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.


 Key messages

Communicating your concerns with your local school leaders can make a big difference. Share the key messages below and view the Speak Up for Keeping Kids Safe and In School fact sheet (PDF). 

Wisconsin families know schools are a safe place for kids to learn and grow.

Multiple studies have shown COVID-19 transmission rates within school settings are typically lower than, or similar to, community transmissions when multiple prevention strategies are in place. When we keep our schools safe, we keep our kids and their teachers safe.

Protecting against exposure to COVID-19 and new variants is essential.

Schools need to work with local public health officials to monitor community transmission and any other metrics that can help guide decisions on how to best protect students, staff, volunteers, and any school visitors.

Our community needs a multi-layer strategy for continuing in-person school.

If everyone does their part, in-school learning can continue, and children can continue to learn in the most productive and safe way possible. 

Parents and guardians can:

  • Get your child vaccinated against COVID-19 and boosted when they are eligible.
  • Talk to your child about why wearing a mask when it is recommended is so important to keeping them at school and in their activities.
  • Give permission for your child to get tested if your school participates in a testing program.
  • Follow quarantine guidance and keep your child home if they are feeling sick.

School safety is essential to the well-being of our broader community.

When schools remain safe and open, parents and guardians can continue to work — adding to the strength of the local economy. Communities showing a strong focus on school safety have been linked to lower transmission rates — easing the burden on local health care systems and community resources.

 Social media

Use these examples below to start conversations with your neighbors on COVID-19 safety and the importance of helping our kids stay safe and in school. Images are sized for easy use on your social media channels. To get started, save the image type you want to use.

Vaccination

  • Vaccinations keep our children safe and in school.
  • We’re fighting COVID-19 by vaccinating our kids!
  • The best protection for your kids from COVID-19 is to vaccinate them. It works. It’s free. It keeps kids in school.
  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine for your kids.
  • My kid is staying healthy and safe with a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • My kid is helping keep all kids safe. COVID-19 vaccines are free and effective.

You Stop the Spread: Our decision? The vaccine for kids

Our decision? The vaccine for kids.

Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

Talk to your doc

  • We talked to our family doctor about the COVID-19 vaccine for kids. It helped!
  • Ask your pediatrician about COVID-19 vaccines for kids.
  • Don’t take my word for it, ask your pediatrician. COVID-19 vaccines work for your kids.
  • My pediatrician knows, and now I know…COVID-19 vaccines work for your kids.
  • Kids + COVID-19 vaccinations = safer schools. Get the facts from your pediatrician.

You Stop the Spread: Our decision? To learn more

Our decision? To learn more. 

Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest 

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Masks

  • Masks make a difference. We wear them! Have your kids wear ‘em to keep up the fight.
  • When kids wear ‘em right, it helps win the fight. Masks help limit the spread of COVID-19.
  • My kid wears a mask to help keep all kids safe. It’s the easy way to stop the spread of COVID-19.
  • Masks: easy protection from COVID-19 for our kids.

Other safety measures

  • I keep my kids home from school when they’re sick. We’re doing our part to stop the spread of COVID-19.
  • I get my kids tested when they show symptoms. We’re doing our part to stop the spread of COVID-19.
  • I quarantine my kids if they’re exposed to COVID-19. We’re doing our part to stop the spread.

Community action

  • Our kids learn together and play together. Let’s protect them together! Wear a mask in public and take other safety steps. It works.
  • Let’s work together as a community and stay safe with masks, social distancing, and getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

 Talking tips

Children are exposed to so many sources of information regarding COVID-19, from their friends and social media to the conversations they overhear on TV and between adults. Make sure what they hear is reliable and accurate. Here are some tips that can help make talking with the kids in your life about COVID-19 easier. Get tips for talking to kids about COVID-19 safety below or view the Tips for Talking to Kids About COVID-19 Safety fact sheet (PDF)

Find out what kids already know

Ask questions geared to their age level. For younger children, you could say, “Do you have questions about the new virus that’s going around?” This gives you a chance to learn how much kids know — and to find out if they’re hearing the wrong information. Follow their lead. Some kids may want to spend time talking. But if your kids don’t seem interested or don’t ask a lot of questions, that’s OK.

Offer comfort and honesty

  • Focus on helping kids feel safe, but be truthful. Don’t offer more detail than your child is interested in. If the topic doesn’t come up, there’s no need to raise it.
  • If they ask about something and you don’t know the answer, say so. Use the question as a chance to find out together. Check the DHS website for up-to-date, reliable information about COVID-19. That way, you have the facts and kids don’t see headlines about deaths and other scary information.
  • Speak calmly and reassuringly. Kids pick up on it when parents worry. So when you talk about COVID-19 and the news, use a calm voice and try not to seem upset.
  • Give kids space to share their fears. It’s natural for kids to worry, “Could I be next? Could that happen to me?” Let your child know that kids don’t seem to get as sick as adults. Let them know they can always come to you for answers or to talk about what scares them.
  • Know when they need guidance. Be aware of how your kids get news and information, especially older kids who go online. Point them to age appropriate content so they don’t end up finding news shows or outlets that scare them or have incorrect information.

Help kids feel in control

  • Give children specific things to do to feel in control. Teach kids that getting lots of sleep and washing their hands well and often can help them stay strong and healthy. Explain that regular hand washing also helps stop viruses from spreading to others. Be a good role model and let your kids see you washing your hands often! Also, teach kids that wearing a mask properly in public can help prevent contracting and spreading viruses.
  • Talk about all the things that are happening to keep people safe and healthy. Young kids might be reassured to know that hospitals and doctors are prepared to treat people who get sick. Talk about the vaccines that people are getting to protect against the virus. These talks also help kids manage changes to their normal routine.
  • Put news stories in context. If they ask, explain that serious illness and death in kids from the virus is still rare, despite what they might hear. Watch the news with your kids so you can filter what they hear.
  • Reassure kids about their loved ones’ safety. Children and teens often worry more about family and friends than themselves. For example, if kids hear that older people are more likely to be seriously ill, they might worry about their grandparents. Letting them visit, call, or video chat with older relatives can help them feel reassured about their loved ones.
  • Let kids know that it’s normal to feel stressed out at times. Everyone does. Recognizing these feelings and knowing that stressful times pass, and life gets back to normal can help children build resilience.

Keep the conversation going

  • Keep checking in with the kids in your life. Use talking about COVID-19 as a way to help kids learn about their bodies, like how the immune system fights disease.
  • Talk about current events with children often. It’s important to help them think through stories they hear about. Ask questions: What do you think about these events? How do you think these things happen? Such questions also encourage conversation about non-news topics.

 Email template

Parent leaders can use the email template below to express concerns about COVID-19 with school administrators or district board members.

Subject line: Parent's COVID-19 Concerns

Dear [SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR OR DISTRICT BOARD MEMBER],

I am the parent of [NUMBER OF CHILDREN/CHILD] at [SCHOOL NAME]. Like many other parents in the district, I know how important in-school instruction is but worry about the spread of COVID-19. I was recently looking at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and it had a page with some great tips on how schools can support COVID-19 vaccination – I’ve included the link below. I would really love to see some of these steps taken in our schools to help better educate parents on the importance of being vaccinated. It is our best defense, so I’ve put together some thoughts on how to make them available to all eligible families:

  • Have teacher workshops or staff meetings specifically to promote vaccine facts and information on how/where to get one.
  • Have a school nurse send an email to parents/guardians with vaccine facts and how/where to get one.
  • Set up and promote a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at school.
  • Invite a trusted health care provider to speak to the PTA or at school board meetings to answer questions about COVID-19 and vaccines.
  • Share information on vaccination sites or events through the school website, emails to parents, newsletters, or other communication channels.
  • Share information to dispel vaccine myths and misinformation.
  • Implement and promote additional safety measure such as masking, testing, physical distancing,  regular handwashing, etc.

We all know how important it is to keep schools open for in-school learning. I think utilizing some of these suggestions can help. 

Thank you for your consideration. I hope you’ll visit the CDC’s School Support Ideas page
at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/planning/school-located-clinics/how-schools-can-support.html

Sincerely,

[NAME]


Protect your child with the COVID-19 vaccine

Give your child the best protection against COVID-19 by getting them vaccinated and boosted when they are eligible. When your child is up to date on their recommended vaccines, you don’t need to worry about them missing out on school or other activities because of quarantine after close contact.

COVID-19 vaccines and booster doses are safe and effective. They have undergone the most intense safety monitoring in U.S. history, which includes studies in adolescents. Results from vaccine safety monitoring efforts show that serious safety problems are rare. Long term side effects from any vaccine, including the COVID-19 vaccine, are extremely unlikely. Side effects generally happen within six weeks of getting a vaccine dose. For this reason, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration required the COVID-19 vaccine to be studied for at least eight weeks after the final dose.

Want to learn more?
 

Scientific data has shown that COVID-19 boosters strengthen protection against Omicron and other COVID-19 variants. Over 25 million vaccine doses have been administered to adolescents and the data continues to show that the COVID-19 vaccine and booster are safe and effective.

Know what to expect at your child's vaccination visit

  • Most vaccination sites may require vaccine recipients under 18 years old to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Some vaccinators accept written or verbal (such as via telephone) consent to administer the COVID-19 vaccine from the child’s legal parent or guardian.
  • Your child can get a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other routine vaccinations.
  • After your child gets a COVID-19 vaccine, they will be observed for at least 15 minutes. If they experience any immediate reactions, medical staff will be available to help right away.
  • Shortly after your child gets their first dose, they may experience mild side effects, such as fever, chills, and pain or swelling on the arm that got the vaccine. These are common signs that their immune system is strengthening its response to the virus.
  • It is important to get all the recommended doses in the primary COVID-19 vaccine series to build protection. Mark your schedule so you know when to come back for the next dose.

Learn more Tips on How to Be There For Your Child During Vaccinations.


Resources and materials to support your family's health and well-being

For resources to help parents and guardians navigate the return to school, visit the Back to School for Parents and Families webpage

 Preventative Care

Be sure to schedule routine childhood health care visits. These visits help prevent other conditions and illnesses and ensure your child is healthy. At a routine childhood health care visit, your child may receive childhood vaccines, weight and height check-ups, nutrition counseling, anemia and lead testing, support for language development and more.

Childhood Vaccinations

Health Care Providers

Medicaid and BadgerCare Plus

 COVID-19

Take simple steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect yourself and loved ones from COVID-19. Your actions can help protect everyone in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Resources

Fact sheets
Videos to share

Share or embed videos on staying safe and in school on your own social media channels. See our full video playlist.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Resources

  • Families and Children a webpage that shares resources on protecting children from getting and spreading COVID-19
  • Coping With COVID-19: an activity book to help children cope with COVID-19 and its related effects
  • Board Game for Children: a family-friendly board game with tips for a healthy school year (recommended for children ages 6-12 years old)

 Mental Health

There’s no time like the present to take care of yourself and your family. That’s a lot easier said than done with all that’s currently going on. The tools and resources available through Resilient Wisconsin can help.

 

Logo for Resilient Wisconsin: Connected. Stronger. Thriving.
 

Featured tools and resources:

Mental Health Conditions

Relationships

Suicide Prevention

Screen Time Advice for Parents

Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Additional Support for Families

Check out the Office of Children’s Mental Health’s list of organizations that provide support to families throughout the state.


Find a vaccine appointment

There are many places you can go to get a COVID-19 vaccine for yourself or your child. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and free. You do not need an ID or insurance to get one.

Find an appointment

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Last Revised: July 26, 2022

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Resilient Wisconsin

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