How to Stay Safe from COVID-19

Going to school in person can be super fun. You get to hang out with your friends, know what’s happening, see your favorite teacher, and maybe even bump into your crush. But some of these things might not be possible if you’re sick with COVID-19. Because COVID-19 is highly contagious and school is often crowded with people, it’s important to protect yourself. This article has some tips and tricks for staying safe from COVID-19 at school.  

What is COVID-19?  

COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus, is a virus spread from person to person through air droplets when a person with the virus coughs, sneezes, speaks, sings, or breathes. COVID-19 can also spread through objects that someone with the virus touched, sneezed, or coughed on. When a healthy person touches these germ-covered objects and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes, the virus can enter their body. The result? Not-so-nice symptoms including headache, sore throat, coughing, congestion, fever, and loss of taste and smell.  

How can I protect myself?  

Although COVID-19 spreads easily, you can protect yourself and others by:  

  • Keeping it clean – When done right, washing your hands well and often with soap and water helps suds away the virus. A rule of thumb for good hand washing is to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice, which is about 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you can’t wash your hands. And always avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth if possible– especially with dirty hands. COVID-19 can enter your body in these ways. Lastly, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.  
  • Wearing a mask – Although no longer required in many school districts, wearing a mask is still helpful for protecting yourself and others from COVID-19. A mask can also help protect you and others from other illnesses like the common cold and the flu. Be sure to wear a mask that fits you well and is comfortable. Consider packing a couple of clean backup masks in case you misplace your mask.  
  • Test yourself – If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, test yourself and stay home until you feel better. At-home testing kits are available at local pharmacies or stores like Walmart. If you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, test yourself – even if you are vaccinated. Your school might also offer COVID-19 screening if you are involved in sports, band, theater, or other organizations. If you are positive for COVID-19, isolate at home according to your school’s guidelines.  
  • Get vaccinated and boosted – Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 can protect you and others. You are much less likely to miss out on school, friends, and activities when fully vaccinated and boosted. And if you get sick, the vaccine reduces the seriousness of the illness. Ask your parents or caregiver to help you schedule an appointment to get vaccinated at your Tribal clinic, IHS clinic, or local pharmacy.  

For more information about staying safe from COVID-19, check out these resources:  

  1. Tips to Protect Yourself From COVID-19
  2. Using Culture to Cope with COVID-19

Author: Stephanie Paz is a Tigua Indian of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from The University of Texas at El Paso and is working towards a Master of Public Health in Health Behavior and Health Promotion from New Mexico State University. 

A teen recently told me that using the phrase “find your tribe” or using the word “tribe” is offensive to Native Americans. I wanted to ask a reliable source if this is true or is simply an opinion. What are your thoughts?

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