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Published on August 19, 2020

Avera Physician Offers Safety Advice at Back-to-School Time

Avera health professionals are sharing lessons learned about COVID-19 as schools greet students this fall.

“As a health system, we can share what we’ve learned through this time to keep students, teachers, workers and families safe,” said Kara Bruning, MD, Avera Medical Group pediatrician. “Wearing masks, maintaining social distance and good hand hygiene are all important parts of the effort toward safety.”

Administrators and teachers – along with parents – have continued to assess approaches that would best serve students, and Avera recommends measures endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other national health organizations.

“No two families will approach the school year in the exact same way, and there are huge decisions to make. There’s no one ‘right’ answer,” said Bruning. “Some parents are choosing to send their children to school, and that’s the right decision for them. Some are choosing to keep their children home and do online schooling, and that’s the right decision for them. Everyone is going to need a little grace – this year will be different no matter what decision you make.”

Bruning said everyone can take steps to help with safety.

“If you’re going back to school in person, masks are really important. For the vast majority of children, wearing a mask is an easy way to stop the disease from spreading,” she said.

Other steps can also help everyone at area schools remain safer.

“Handwashing is a vital part of health. We stop viruses all the time with hand-washing, whether it’s RSV or influenza or COVID-19. So it’s super-important this year,” said Bruning. “Another important part of overall health is making sure your children are up-to-date on any vaccinations or checkups they might need. Diseases like pertussis and measles are still out there, and we don’t need these illnesses in our population on top of COVID. Immunizations are proven to prevent these serious viruses.”

Prevention pays off – with diligent steps toward stopping possible spread and risk-reduction efforts, the likelihood of kids going to school safely is higher.

“If you’re sending your child to school, our goal is to keep them in school as long as we can, and to keep everyone healthy,” Bruning said. “The important part of the effort is working together – applying the basics of self-protection and safety, and working as communities to help everyone. We’re all in this effort together.”

Avera offers a suite of online information to help parents, students, teachers and more. Learn more at

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