According to UNICEF, more than 1 billion children are at risk of falling behind in education because of school closures and changes to education policies due to COVID-19.
Schools across the country have been rocked by COVID-19. It’s impossible to say if and when things will return to normal.
You recognize the importance of in-person learning, but you also need to weigh the risks of the disease reaching your home.
Read this important guide to find out more about returning to school during COVID-19.
Check With Your School
There isn’t a federal or state policy that dictates if schools are open or not. This is done at the local level, with boards of education making the call. Private schools will decide for themselves whether it’s safe to return to school or not.
Odds are your school district is giving you a few options. One option is to go to school 5 days a week. Another one is for virtual learning 5 days a week. Other districts offer a hybrid learning situation.
You want to see what your school board offers and find out what their plan is to keep kids safe during the day. Learn how they plan to maintain social distancing on the bus and what the mask policies are.
Will kids have to wash their hands as soon as they walk into the building and at different times during the day? Regular hand washing is one of the ways to curb the spread of the disease.
Find out what happens in between classes. Some schools keep kids in the same classroom all day and just have the teachers change rooms. Others have hallways designed for one-way traffic.
Gather as much information as you can so you make an informed decision about returning to school.
What’s Your Home Situation?
It’s up to you to decide what you want to do with your kids. One factor is whether or not your child is in a high-risk category. In that case, you’re going to want to keep your child at home.
Another factor is your home situation. If both parents have to go to work, you may have no other choice but to send your kids to school.
You may have one parent stay home and take a financial hit.
Whatever you do, don’t try to work and teach your kids at the same time. It’s nearly impossible to do with younger kids. Older kids that are in middle school and high school are much more independent and this can work for you.
If you’re on the fence about what to do with your children, read more about other parents’ stories and how they made their decisions.
Be Patient With Teachers
Teachers are bearing the brunt of this mess. They’re doing their best to manage the changes just like you are.
They’re also exhausted because they are doing twice the work. They have students for in-person learning. They then hop online for virtual learning. They’re working later, and they’re stressed out.
Remember, your teachers are risking their own health each day they go to work. Some teachers aren’t well supported by their school districts and help isn’t on the way anytime soon.
What that means for you is that you need to have compassion for your teachers. Your kids will get frustrated, you’ll get frustrated, but you have to be patient.
Returning to School Safely
As soon as you put your kids on the bus or drop them off at school, your kids are out of your control. Before they return to school, do your best to educate your kids on the importance of washing hands and wearing masks.
Kids may not fully understand the risks to their health because they probably have heard that COVID-19 doesn’t affect them. Kids also think that they know everything.
Also, make sure that they follow the instructions of teachers and staff members at the school.
For schools to stay open, everyone in your community has to be on board with the protocols. If your child has a runny nose or a fever, keep them home.
Assume Anything Will Happen
If there is one certainty this school year, it’s that it’s completely unpredictable. You want to make sure that you’re prepared for anything and everything to happen.
Assume that your school board will change their plans at some point. You want to prepare for every possibility. Have a plan in place in case schools shut down again.
This year is going to be hard on your kids at any age. College freshmen are missing out on the college experience. New graduate students are learning virtually in a new school and can’t meet people easily.
Young kids are adjusting to new routines and schedules. Frequently changing schedules isn’t going to help them because they like structure.
It’s easy to be frustrated, but you have to bear in mind that you can only control so much. Your kids are looking for safety and certainty in these uncertain times.
You can’t make guarantees, but you can give them a little reassurance and a positive attitude. That will help everyone in your family stay sane during these trying times.
Create a Return to School Plan
In these uncertain times, families across the country are seeking some degree of normalcy. Returning to school is one way to go back to normal, but you have to balance normalcy with the risk that exists.
Creating a return to school plan is the first step to be prepared for anything. You need to know what your school district’s plans are to educate kids and keep them safe.
It’s not easy to juggle everything, but with a positive attitude and understanding, you and your family can thrive during these times.
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