Man with mask and backpack traveling
Ohio Life | Live Well Ohio

Live Well Ohio September/October 2021

Learn how to protect yourself while traveling during the pandemic, and get advice on being a positive force in the battle against bullying. 

Destination Vacation 
Enjoy a healthy trip with this guidance for protecting yourself amid the pandemic.


Pack your bags and mask up. With the COVID-19 vaccine being readily available, air travel has picked up and many are taking a first vacation since the pandemic hit.

“People are excited to go out and travel like they once did,” says Dr. Joseph Khabbaza, a pulmonary medicine and intensive care unit physician at Cleveland Clinic. “But we are not at a place of herd immunity,” he adds, explaining that the new Delta variant has shown more aggressive transmission, particularly for the unvaccinated.

If your travel plans include the airport, federal guidelines require masks to be worn indoors and on the airplane. As you prepare for takeoff, here’s what to know so you can have a safe and healthy trip. 

Destination Details: “Find out what the cases are like at your destination, whether it’s domestic or international,” Khabbaza says. State websites offer guidance. “Even if you are traveling to a place with a high amount of cases, if you are vaccinated and have a normal immune system, the risk is quite low to you.” 

Vaccinated Travelers: There is no vaccination requirement to board a plane in the contiguous United States. However, travelers entering Hawaii must pretest or self-quarantine for 10 days. Visitors complete and submit a health and travel questionnaire and their temperature is taken upon arrival. To avoid quarantine, travelers must produce a negative COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours prior to flight departure. 

Packing Essentials: Bring a mask — and extras. Hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes to use on surfaces are also wise to have with you during travel, Khabbaza says. “Any time you are going to be in a setting with a lot of other people … follow the same precautions we had in place before with masking and social distancing.”

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Illustration of girl being bullied (photo by iStock)
The Bully Blues
The online world adds a damaging dimension to the traditional schoolyard bully. Here is how to play a positive role. 

Kids are dealing with more than the playground bully that throws a punch or the cafeteria mean kid who dumps a tray. In today’s digital world, the schoolyard is bigger, more interactive and open around the clock, every day of the year.

“Subtle acts have just as much of an emotional toll as someone getting pushed down or teased in person,” says Parker Huston, Ph.D. a pediatric psychologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where he is clinical director of On Our Sleeves, a movement to transform children’s mental health. “When the school day is over, bullies don’t stop getting access. They have access all the time through social media and other online means.”

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, which emphasizes respect and inclusion, while teaching that everyone can play a positive role. Here’s how you can, too.  

Subtle Signs: Depending on their age, kids might be unaware that the way they are being treated is not OK, but they do know when they’re feeling uncomfortable or not included. “I always encourage parents to look out for school avoidance or being really tearful when going to school, especially if they’ve been totally fine going to school before and they won’t share a specific reason why,” Huston says. 

Bullying vs. Missing Out: It’s one thing to not be invited to a birthday party if there are only five guests included and the classmate is not a good friend. It is bullying though when a child is left out and told it is because of how he or she looks or behaves. “It’s the reasoning behind it and personal targeting versus the fact that everyone misses out on things sometimes,” Huston explains. 

Online Attacks: Weight-related bullying is on the rise, Huston says. This is largely due to social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram where kids comment on others’ photos. “Everyone is critiquing the way people look and it can really take a toll,” he says, advising parents to monitor what kids post and the comments they receive online. “Kids are developing their sense of self-identity at [middle school and high school] ages, and those comments can be damaging.” 

Teaching Empathy: By middle school, kids have more self-awareness about their social standing and start dividing into groups. At this age, parents can teach empathy and understanding others’ perspectives. Social media complicates social life at this stage. “They have more access to technology and spend less time supervised, which can leave time for more problems to occur,” Huston says. 

Bullies Need Help, Too: The stereotypical image of a bully who’s emotionally stoic, aggressive and manipulative is often not the reality, Huston says. “More often, it’s another kid who is really under a lot of stress and not managing emotions well and doesn’t have good social skills and might be bullied themselves at school or home,” he explains. “Trying to figure out a way to help kids in that situation is usually the best route forward, along with collaborating with the school.”

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