How to Handle Back-to-School Physicals During COVID-19

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school-age girl with cloth face mask on during doctor's appointment

Even though summer break is just staring, now is the time to start scheduling back-to-school and sports physicals. This year, like always, it’s best to schedule school physicals in-person. Despite the spread of COVID-19, we are doing everything possible to ensure our spaces are safe for your family. Dr. Patricia Newland, MD, explains what is different and what you can expect with these appointments.

Why Back-to-School Physical are Important

Seeing your child in-person could mean finding any and all problems early-on. For children and adolescents, we remain focused on growth, development and well-being – including emotional well-being. For example, COVID-19 might be causing your child to feel anxious, stressed and/or depressed. Your child’s doctor will be able to do a basic check on your child’s mental health during a physical or well-child check.

How We’re Offering Safe Care and a Clean Space

We’ve spent a lot of time working on safety and cleanliness in our clinics, especially when it comes to cleaning procedures. We are using the exact wipes you're supposed to use to take care of the virus, and we’re taking extra time in between patients to make sure every room is clean, top to bottom.
Also, all team members are wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks. For those in direct contact with you or your children, it also involves eye protection such as a face shield.

How COVID-19 is Making Appointments Look Different

Besides more PPE, you’ll notice different physical changes to our spaces, including waiting rooms. If you walk through, you’ll notice chairs are spaced out to support social distancing. You might also notice plexiglass at the check-in counters. That’s simply to keep any potential respiratory droplets that can spread COVID-19 from passing between people. Some clinics also have virtual waiting rooms, which allows you to wait for your appointment in your vehicle. Call your clinic to see if it’s an option for you.

What You Need to Know Before the Doctor’s Appointment

We are asking everyone, including any children over the age of two, wear a cloth face mask or face covering when coming into health care spaces. This helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. Often when the virus begins, a person won’t experience symptoms for several days. Wearing a face mask will help prevent the accidental spread of the coronavirus. If you need help making a mask, we’ve got a no-sew and sewing machine option available to help. 

Besides wearing a mask, here’s what else you should prepare before a school physical appointment:

  • If you’re new to the clinic, bring previous records and vaccine history.
  • Bring any forms needed for specific sports or camps.
  • Check your MyUnityPoint patient portal for forms that can be filled out ahead of time.
  • Encourage your child to think through any health-related questions they can ask their care team.

What About COVID-19 Testing During Back to School Physicals?

COVID-19 testing is not done as a standard part of a routine well-child or school physical visit, but it is currently being done on people who are symptomatic, regardless of age. If your child has symptoms you think might be related to COVID-19 (cough, shortness of breath or fever), please call the office first before coming in. It’ll allow us to direct you to the best place to get tested.

Make a Doctor’s Appointment, Today

Don’t wait to schedule your child’s back-to-school or sport physical appointment. If you have any questions regarding your care during COVID-19, call your clinic and talk with your child’s care team. Your safety is our top priority and we are here to care for you.