high school students sitting at desks working together

Parents may be feeling a sigh of relief that summer is over and their children are heading back to the classroom. But as you prepare to send your child or teen off for a new school year, there are some things you may want to consider to keep them safe.


The end of summer has brought an increase in COVID-19 cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). California has seen about a 10% increase in cases. However, some experts believe the number of cases is likely higher since many people test at home. While it's not a huge surge, the rise in COVID cases is being felt across all ages.

Learn the COVID-19 symptoms to watch for

The best protection against COVID-19 is to stay up to date on COVID vaccinations, according to the CDC guidelines.

If your child has symptoms of COVID-19, it's important that you get them tested. You can find a COVID-19 testing location through the state of California's COVID-19 website.

Learn how to do an at-home COVID test properly (from UC Davis Health)

Get your child vaccinated against COVID-19 at UC Davis Health


Fentanyl overdoses and deaths are on the rise. Every parent should talk to their child about the dangers of this opioid.

Emergency department visits for non-fatal opioid overdoses for ages 10-19 in California more than tripled from 2018 (379) to 2020 (1,222), according to the California Department of Public Health. Fentanyl-related deaths for Californians ages 10-19 surged from 36 in 2018 to 261 in 2020.

Health care providers are seeing more teens from all backgrounds and income levels with opioid use disorder. In many cases, teens are buying opioids – specifically fentanyl – through social media, like Instagram. It's important to talk to your kids about the dangers of buying this drug or any other drugs that could laced with fentanyl.

A single dose could be fatal. Fentanyl has replaced most other opioids that people buy on the street. Even people who think they're using heroin are usually taking fentanyl because there's so much available.

For this alarming reason, it's important that parents have naloxone (also known as Narcan) on hand. Naloxone reverses the effects or opioids and can be administered by anyone. You may not think your child uses drugs, but all they have to do is take one fentanyl pill one time. If you have naloxone, you can potentially save their life – or the life of another child.

Learn more about why you should carry naloxone (Narcan) to combat opioid overdoses (from UC Davis Health)

Read from UC Davis Health: Fentanyl facts, overdose signs to look for, and how you can help save a life

Flu and common cold

It's important to remind children to wash their hands, especially before they eat. This will help protect against germs that can lead to the flu, cold, COVID-19, and other viruses.

Common cold symptoms are usually mild. They can include runny nose, cough and sore throat. Children with a cold typically won't have much of a fever and won't feel as achy.

While it's not quite flu season yet, it will be here before we know it. The best way to protect your children from the flu is to get them a flu shot. The CDC recommends getting a flu shot in late September or October. This allows for the most protection that will last through flu season, which typically peaks in February.

Check out these 7 facts about the flu and why you should get a flu shot (from UC Davis Health)

Read more from UC Davis Health: 5 immune boosters to help keep you healthy


Concussions are often known as the "invisible injury" because from the outside someone may look normal. However, children can be vulnerable to concussions while playing on the playground, riding a skateboard or bicycle, or playing sports.

A person doesn't have to lose consciousness for the injury to be a concussion. If you suspect any concussion symptoms with your child, make sure they don't return to physical activity too soon. Research shows that athletes who continue to play with concussion symptoms are 6 times more like to have a longer recovery – and have a more severe head injury.

If your child rides a skateboard, scooter or bicycle to school or after school, make sure they're wearing a helmet in case they crash.

Learn more about how to spot a concussion and what to do if you suspect a brain injury (from UC Davis Health)

Sports injuries

Along with school comes many after-school activities like sports. This often leads to injuries like strains, sprains and broken bones.

Parents and coaches should encourage their children to take at least one day per week as a rest day from their sport. This helps the body recover and could limit the chances for injuries. It's also important to make sure your child is wearing the proper gear and that it fits correctly.

Coaches should add strength training and stretching to their practice routines. Young athletes should be taught proper techniques and should be encouraged to stop their activity if there's any pain.

Read more from UC Davis Health: 7 common injuries in youth sports and how parents can help prevent them

Read more Children's Health blogs from Cultivating Health

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