Over the last few months, many school districts have decided on whether they would choose a remote option, a hybrid model or allow their learners to return safely to the classroom under strict mask mandates and social distancing guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These options have been followed based on benchmarks set by the government to ensure the highest level of safety for our students. If you are in a location that has allowed students to return to the classroom, even part time, you may be feeling anxious, concerned and apprehensive, but there are ways to support your learner through this new feat in your academic path.
Talk to your child about the “new normal”
The weight of your new school’s regulations may seem heavy, but don’t forget that your children are the one who will have to experience them firsthand. Prioritize your child’s mental health and physical wellness above all else when it comes to prepping for the school year. Parental support is key to overall success with this new normal that they will face. Have a sit-down conversation before the first day of in-person classes and talk through any anxieties your child may be facing. Answer any questions your child has and be forthcoming when it comes to reviewing the new rules and regulations. If your child is overly anxious it may be best to have more than one sit-down chat about the upcoming changes to ensure you are relieving as much stress as possible for them. Remind them often that you are there to support them daily. Remember: don’t instill fear during these conversations, instead, focus on the controllables at hand, such as proper handwashing, social distancing, mask wearing and things that they can do to control the spread and avoid sickness.
Find comfortable options that follow the rules
With the new rules in place, your school has most likely opted for mandatory facemasks. Make sure to find a good fitting reusable face mask that will be comfortable for hours of wear. Prior to the start of classes, have your child practice wearing the mask throughout the day to ensure the fit is as ideal as possible for their face and breathing. If masks cause more stress and pain for them than good, opt for the face shield if allowable in your school. Both options protect their nose and mouth but depending on their specific needs there may be a preference for them, so don’t hesitate to try both. Extensive mask wearing can also cause behind-the-ear pain from the loops of the mask, so be sure to check their ears often and look into options that help protect their ears. Wash masks and high contact objects daily to ensure they are starting each day on the healthiest foot possible.
Protect your child and others with health screenings
Daily health screenings at home are a must to protect your child and others. Before your child heads off to school check their temperature and ask them about how they’re feeling. If they have symptoms similar to a cold, flu or COVID-19 it may be best to keep them home until those symptoms subside. Consult a physician if you are unsure whether you should send them to school or not.
Communicate often with staff and your child about classroom life
Have a daily check-in with your child after their school day. To delve into their feelings about the new normal at school consider asking them things like:
– How is the mask-wearing going in school? Do you take it off at any point during the day?
– What does social distancing look like in your classroom?
– Is there any news about COVID circling your school?
– Are you comfortable?
– Do you feel safe?
– Do you feel as though you can learn effectively in your new environment?
– Is there anything else I can do to support you more?
Being as transparent and open with your child as possible is key to keeping their health and safety in line. If things are going astray and you feel as though their learning, mental or physical health is suffering don’t hesitate to contact their teacher. Weekly check-ins with teachers are also a good idea to have your finger on the pulse.
As your child starts their new school structure under strict COVID-19 guidelines they need your support through it all. Stay in the know and communicate with your child daily about how they are feeling, what they are seeing at school and how they feel about the guidelines in place. Don’t hesitate to delve in to things that strike up concern in you as the health and wellbeing of your child is your utmost priority, especially in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.