The summer flew by and back to school mode is on.  Schools have worked on their beginning of year transition plan which allows for up to 8 weeks of online only instruction for public schools should their district decide to they need them and parents are being surveyed as to whether they prefer online only or in-person instruction once children are actually allowed on campus.  And while physical attendance may not be imminent, that time will get here before you know it.

Consider your options and think of everything that might be affected when choosing the right instructional plan for your family.  Whether it’s online or in-person, things such as the availability and cost of childcare, the student’s and family’s health condition, transportation considerations, possible effect on extra-curricular activities, and the child’s aptitude and preference to the available learning models should be taken into account.

Should it be determined that in-person instruction is what’s best, it’s a good idea for families to sit down and go over some of the following information in order to increase the chances of their children keeping themselves and those around them healthy while at school.

  • Go over the school’s in-person learning plan so that your child knows what to expect when getting in and out of the building. School can stress some kids out enough so if they know that their temperature will be checked prior to them entering the campus or classroom, it may alleviate some of the anxiousness they’re feeling.  Talk about how the classroom will look different than what they’re used to, and that more attention will be paid to how and when they transition from class to class.
  • Talk about the importance of wearing their masks. It may seem like second nature now, but once kids get together, it’s easy for them to get distracted and remove their masks.  It may be due to something as simple as making sure their conversations aren’t muffled or possibly peer pressure related if they don’t want to be seen as being scared in front of their friends.
  • Give them tips on how to quickly visualize proper social distancing. Especially for the younger kids, the difference in their minds between hearing they must keep 6 feet apart from others may be the same as if you told them 6 inches.  Go over practical ways that can help them determine if somebody is too close.  Once idea would be to let them know that if they’re standing in front of their friend and both of them have their arm stretched forward and their fingertips are close enough to touch, they should take two steps back.
  • Discuss when it is OK and when it’s not OK to share. Once again, this is for some of the younger students, but it’s still good info to go over with your high school aged kids as well.  A big part of learning healthy social interaction is the emphasis on sharing.  With COVID-19 currently still around, it may not be the best idea for kids to handle the same toy, or pass pencils/pens back and forth.  Let them know how to politely say no to sharing items that have the potential to get passed around.
  • Make sure they’re comfortable enough to tell you if they’re not feeling well. While some kids will no doubt try and see how far they can take this, make sure children don’t feel pressured to attend school when they’re not feeling well.  You know your kids better than everybody, give them the initial benefit of the doubt, but check their temperature as well as looking for other signs that they may not be feeling well.  If you’re unsure, err on the side of caution and keep the child home.

This list can go on and on, but don’t take it for granted that your child knows all of this information.  Have these conversations with them and remind them (and yourself) that this year may require more flexibility to adapt to changing situations.  Most important of all, make sure children feel cautious but otherwise empowered by knowing how to keep healthy as opposed to feeling scared of leaving the house.

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