Back to School and Coronavirus
Depending on the guidelines and decisions in your local area, you are either preparing for an altered in-school experience for students or getting ready to dive back into virtual schooling.
As kids around the country (and the world) prepare to go back to school, parents are grappling with how best to prepare their kids and families. Depending on the guidelines and decisions in your local area, you are either preparing for an altered in-school experience for students or getting ready to dive back into virtual schooling.
Regardless of the set-up, getting ready for school this year will present new challenges. We have created a quick list to help get your family ready for their first day back. While your school supply list might look a little different, teachers and school administers are working hard to help their kids, The CDC has also published a Back to School Planning article that parents may find useful and informative.
Read Everything from Your School
Every school and jurisdiction is making different decisions for their teachers and students, so making sweeping statements about what students should and should not do is impossible. Your school’s administration and your child’s teachers will share all the information they have, as well as the updated classroom rules and regulations. Read everything that is shared with you and ask your school any questions you may have.
Be patient with the teachers and administrators as they try to answer everyone’s questions and navigate a situation that is new to them as well.
Once you have a full understanding of your child’s new school experience, explain the new rules to your children as clearly simply as possible.
Check in With Everyone
With the school year abruptly going virtual last year, kids may feel confused about going back into a classroom. One of your kids might be thrilled to get back to the classroom with their friends, and the other might be experiencing more anxiety as you prepare.
Talk to your kids to see how they are feeling. Allow them to talk and ask questions. Our blog on Supporting Your Child’s Mental Health has more tips for this.
At the same time, talk to your friends who are parents. This change is new for you as well, and you should seek support from those who are also experiencing the same frustrations or concerns. Taking care of yourself is also very important and allows you to dedicate your energy to your kids.
If you live in an area that experiences cold winters, you are accustomed to going through the morning checklist of making sure your child has their hat, gloves, and scarf. You also know that you must do the same check at the end of the day to see if anything is missing. In many ways, having any required face coverings or other equipment in your child’s bag at the beginning and end of the day will go through a similar process.
If you are continuing virtual schooling, try to build a routine into your day that will allow you to structure a schedule that works for both you and your child—our working from home while homeschooling guide has some tips on balancing schedules.
If your child needs to wear a mask in the classroom, have them wear it around the house for increasing periods of time. This practice time will normalize the wearing of a face covering and help them get used to the feeling. You can also incentivize mask-wearing with specialty design material from their favorite superhero.
If you know that your child’s teacher will wear a mask, take time to explain that as well, so it is not a surprise. Younger kids may need time to adjust and may struggle because they can’t see their teacher’s smile or full facial expression.
Some schools are also requiring increased handwashing. Practice proper handwashing and make it a fun game at home to get your kids used to the routine.
More than just checking in before classes are in session, communication will remain key throughout the coming weeks and months. Have regular conversations over dinner and in the mornings with your kids and continue to read everything that is sent home from the school.
For parents who are working together and managing a time-sharing schedule, there are many best practices to help you communicate with your co-parent. Using a co-parenting communication service such as TalkingParents will allow you to share documents that are disseminated by the school and organize your schedules.