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Reopening Schools and Rethinking Physical Activity

Lately though, I find myself thinking beyond Kate the Public Health Professional when I see new resources and trainings come across my virtual desk. Yes, I am a public health professional. But I am also an employee of NNPHI, a community member of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a spouse, and a parent of two small children.

A resource like the one above from the CDC has implications for each of my roles. As an employee of NNPHI, I wonder how to get this out to our network members and the implications for our internal COVID-19 policies. As a community member, I wonder if our local leaders are aware of these indicators and are using them to make decisions to ensure the safety of our local students. As a parent, I wonder if my children’s daycare—which is open and in-person—is meeting the core and secondary indicators outlined in the decision tool.

As public health professionals, it is important for us to consider the roles our communities play in supporting public health, especially during this global pandemic. COVID-19 revealed a fundamental truth about our profession: public health is everywhere, and the public health workforce is everyone.  Everyone at my job, in my local community, at my children’s day care, and at my spouse’s office has a role to play in the health and safety of their fellow humans. The resources, trainings, and information we have access to as public health professionals is not for our eyes only; it is critical that the information gets into the hands of every person in our communities so they have the resources to make a huge range of decisions that will affect the health of themselves and their families.

NNPHI and member institute Health Resources in Action, through our initiative Springboard to Active Schools, have catalogued many resources from CDC and other partners on Springboard’s COVID-19 site. I want to highlight a few resources and provide recommendations for how you might use and share these with your expanded community of public health professionals:

  • Considerations and Tips and Ideas for Classroom PA During COVID-19: These new resources from Springboard to Active Schools can be sent to friends and family members who may be helping facilitate virtual learning and are looking for ways to ensure young people are moving their bodies and staying active. Send these resources to school and district leaders to drive home the importance of making sure students are staying active no matter the learning environment.
  • Checklists and a School Decision-Making Tool for Parents, Caregivers, and Guardians: Send these resource to anyone in your life caring for school-aged young people. Whether a school is going back in-person and socially distanced, virtual, or a hybrid of the two, these tools can help caregivers make decisions about and plan for whatever the school year may look like.
  • Guidance on Use of Masks in Schools: Familiarize yourself with CDC’s guidance on masks and model correct use of a mask for those in your communities. Send to anyone in your communities who interact with school-aged young people.
  • Playbook for Healthy School Communities: Send to local and state leaders, school and districts decision-makers, school nurses, and teachers to help share the bigger picture of where school health fits into COVID-19 health and safety measures.

These tools only scratch the surface for what’s out there to support communities and individuals during this time. It’s up to us to do all we can to invite those in our community to take up the task of joining the public health workforce. My team is doing this in a few ways: sharing information out through every network we have access to; considering new and non-traditional avenues for communication (e.g. social media parenting influencers); and adapting our messaging based on our audience (e.g., “classroom physical activity” for public health professionals vs. “active learners” for educators and parents).

I welcome others to share how they are inviting others to join the public health workforce during COVID-19. Send me an email at kholmes@nnphi.fcg-staging.dev or share this post on Twitter with your engagement ideas. Follow us at @Springboard2AS and @NNPHI_ORG to stay up to date on the latest resources.

 

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