By Remy Gordon, LCSW
How do we prepare to return back to school when we aren’t really going back to the classroom physically? We are returning for a new academic year yet we never properly finished off the last academic year. This is all brand new for everyone; parents, teachers, guardians, bus drivers, custodians, tutors, students, etc. Everything you are feeling (the anxiety, the fear, the nerves) is completely normal.
Schools are working with doctors, public health experts, teachers, and parents to determine the best way to reopen their school, whether it be in person or through virtual learning. Here in Miami, many schools have chosen to begin their school year virtually. But what does this mean for parents who work and cannot afford to stay home with their children? Or children who share one computer amongst their siblings? How will these children be able to succeed with such barriers? It is still all very unknown and as we all know; the unknown can be scary.
As schools reopen, it will look very different than before. Schools need to prepare to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. They can do this by physical distancing, frequent hand washing, masks for all students and adults, lunch at desks, fewer students and staff in the classroom, teachers move classrooms and not the students, disinfecting high-touch surfaces and placing one-way arrows around the school hallways.
Parents, you’re likely to have questions when your children return to the classroom. It’s normal to have lots of questions during such a different time. As a former teacher, I would have questions myself. I would be worried about my students’ safety, as well as my own.
Here are some questions I think would be important to ask your child’s teacher or school administrator:
- What steps has the school taken to help ensure the safety of the students and teachers?
- How will the school support the mental health of students and combat any stigma against people who have been sick?
- How can I support the school’s safety efforts?
- What will happen when a student gets sick?
Life during the COVID-19 pandemic is difficult. Is there a right answer? Reopen schools, distance virtual learning, or a hybrid? I don’t think that there is one right answer rather it’s all situational. Every student, family, and school has different situations. We don’t have the answers. We are in the time of the unknown.
One thing that I found interesting is just how resilient students have been during these times. Students around the world have shown us they want to learn and with the support of their teachers and families, they have continued learning. As a former teacher and current therapist, I know the importance of learning. Seeing how children enjoy learning brightens my day.
- Use this time to create a routine.
- Offer your children extra support with schoolwork at home if they are falling behind and inform the teacher.
- Every child is dealing with this pandemic differently. Show them that you care and incorporate fun into their daily routine. Fun may look like a family dinner, a game night, reading before bed, or anything else they may enjoy.
Communication is key. Parents should communicate with their children, with the teachers, and with school administration. School administration and teachers should communicate with their students and their families. Communication efforts need to be coming from all directions. Teachers may be feeling very overwhelmed right now and may also need extra support. Parents should also communicate with their children about their feelings. This is new for everyone and the children may be confused, worried, or anxious. Validate their feelings and show your concerns. Let them know they are not alone.