Mom and Dad made the decision last week that I would be going back to school. They had been talking about it for a long time. When many people were still getting sick from the virus, they leaned towards more homeschooling, and I was silently relieved. But as the date grew closer, the numbers from the virus came down, and they felt more confident in sending me to school as they thought I would be safe.
At first, I was excited to see all of my friends. I have a younger brother, but he doesn’t always play the way I like. I need my friends to talk to and to play the games we love.
My cousin Siam is not able to go to school. Her family lives in an area where the numbers for the virus is higher than our district. So she will continue learning online while I can go back to school.
Finally, the day came. It was time to go back to school. It was strange when my mother took my temperature this morning. It is a check that will happen every morning to keep everyone safe – safe from me, if I get sick.
Mom dropped me off in the car parking lot instead of walking me to the playground. This was one of the new rules. It made me feel sad that she could not watch me start my day. I could feel my stress level go up.
I can barely remember the last time I was here at school. Nothing is very familiar to me, even though I have been here hundreds of times. School has changed so much.
My friends cannot come close to update me on what they have been doing. Now we stand on Xs outside the school patiently waiting to go inside. There is an eerie silence as every parent has warned us to be very careful at school so that we won’t get sick.
Finally, when I get to my classroom, things are very different. Our desks are spread apart. We all carefully walk to our spots to look through our new school supplies and arrange things near our private spaces. Once we sit down in our places, we begin to feel a little more relaxed. We wave, smile, and air high five.
I am missing my best friend, Jared. He has been assigned to another class and will be coming to school on opposite days to me. There are only 15 kids in my class.
Our teacher is new to the school. Mrs. G. is staying at home with her family, so Mr. K. Is taking over teaching the grade 4 classroom. He is wearing a mask, but I can still see his smile as there is a clear patch in his mask. He looks friendly. I start to feel a little better.
I sure hope the day goes smoothly as I still feel jittery.
The first thing we do with Mr. K. is to play a game. It helps us concentrate on fun instead of worrying about the situation. We start by all following Mr. K. ’s moves. He jumps on 1 foot and then on the other. Soon he is turning around, and we all follow. That is the warm-up. My friend Sahira chooses Dylan to close his eyes to be “it”. Then Mr. K. selects Bonita to be the leader to change the moves. We follow her movements, while Sahira tries to guess who the leader is now. Soon I was so involved in playing the game; I began to enjoy myself and laugh at our antics.
When I get home that afternoon, I tell mom all about my first day. I played games, read some new books, talked to my friends, worked on some math games on the computer, and watched some videos. I am looking forward to returning the next day.
My mom smiles.
Consider Emotional State First
Many kids will be nervous when it is time to go back to school face-to-face. Hopefully, all of the adults involved will understand that teachers need to concentrate on helping kids find the experience enjoyable while feeling safe. Academics may need to take a back seat for some time. It will take not just days or weeks for everyone to be ready for academic challenges. It may take months.
And that is OK.
Kids Can: in the coronavirus pandemic See the tips and tricks to help kids be more positive during the coronavirus pandemic. Use storybooks and Youtube videos to help your kids understand their emotions.
At some point, the schools in your neighborhood will reopen. Prepare your young child for the new normal. Use these 7 Tips and Tricks. Going Back to School Help for ParentsTestimonial: Sara Schultz: this is great! I am an elementary school counselor and have lots of opinions on this but if parents choose to send their children the parent tips in this article are spot on. Takiyah Brickhouse: great article to communicate in a child-friendly language.
Very soon, every family will be facing this dilemma. You will be thinking about sending your child back to school. Since the restrictions for the coronavirus are easing, many areas are opening up the schools. In most places daycares have been open for a while. Some parents will welcome the opportunity to get closer to the new normal, and others will refuse to send their children.
In this unpredictable world, both viewpoints are understandable.
But if you do send your child back to school, help prepare them for the inevitable. It will not look like what they know and are familiar with.
Here are 7 pointers to assist you. The ideas have been generalized, and you may need to confirm the details with your school district. You can explain the following to your child.
1. Not The Same
School will not be the same as before. But it is safe for you to return if you understand a few ideas and the new rules about school.
If you have an older brother or sister, they may go to school first, or they may have to wait until after you go to school. Not everyone will return on the same day.
Your mom or dad may take your temperature every day to make sure you are ok to mix with your friends. This check will keep everyone safe.
2. I Can See My Friends
You will be very happy to see your friends, but you cannot play with them in the same way as before.
You can see your friends and talk to them, but you cannot get any closer than 6 feet – Parents you will need to demonstrate how far that is – have your child stretch out their hands.
You can practice social distancing at home so your child can be prepared for it. Have a “social distancing morning or afternoon” in your home to normalize the conditions. Include handwashing in your routine.
There will be no sharing of anything, including school supplies, snacks or lunches, books, papers when you go back to school.
Your teachers will give you lots of time to play with each other in a safe way. You can share what you have been doing with your families. Or you can just play, now that you are together again.
It could be that some of your friends will decide to stay at home and will not be at school with you. That is their choice. Their mom and dad will keep them safe at home.
3. The Classroom Will Be Different
There will be fewer people in your class, so that your teachers can keep everyone safely apart at the right distance.
You will not be allowed to leave the classroom without an adult to help you remember the rules about distancing.
Your teacher will likely teach you everything, from reading to physical education to music. It is unlikely that there will be any teachers that teach many different classes.
It also could be that your teacher may not be back. He or she may have health concerns or may have family members who need care. It could be a personal decision on the part of your teacher. You will not be told why they are not at school, as this is private information. No one will share the reasons with you.
4. Keeping You Safe from the Virus
You may see more people cleaning more often. This is to keep you safe. So, if you use the blocks, they may have to be cleaned before anyone else uses them. Your teacher will explain what to do to keep you safe.
You will have to do more personal washing than ever before. Parents need to be aware that “the new government directive says children will have to wash their hands upon arrival at school, before and after each trip to the toilet, before and after each meal, after play, after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing, after touching shared objects, and before going home,” according to The Local. Hand washing will take time for everyone to do, a few at a time. Before you go to school, I will help you practice how to wash your hands washing and in school, you can use the songs or methods, so you know how long to spend washing your hands.
If you have a fever at school or show signs of illness, you will need to go home to keep everyone safe.
5. Hey!!!! This is Different
Your mom or dad will have to take your temperature every day before you leave for school.
Somethings you see will surprise you. There may be X’s on the pavement or in the hallways, so you will know where to stand. There may be arrows for ways to walk.
You will continue to see masks. Children may have the choice to wear a mask. Some kids may have a medical reason why they cannot wear a mask. But all of the adults will wear one.
Your parents will not be able to go into the school. They may have to wait in your family car. You will need to go inside yourself, but your teachers will be there to help you. Don’t worry, everything will work out, when you go back to school.
You may go to school for a week and then will stay home for a week. Or you may go to school in the afternoons and your friends will go in the mornings.
Recess will look very different. Some schools will have sections of the playground for certain classes. Others will have classes go out for recess at different times.
There will be no baseball or soccer games as you come into contact too closely for those types of sports. You may want to bring some toys to play with at recess, but you may not share these toys with a friend.
Some areas of the schoolyard may be closed to everyone. That could include the playground, sandpits, and other equipment, when you go back to school.
7. My Ride to School
You can go to school on the bus, but you may not be able to sit with a friend, as that is too close to keep you safe. Your brother or sister may need to sit on the same seat with you because they are in your safe bubble. Your friend may sit across the aisle from you. No one can turn around to talk to a friend as this is too close. You may want to play a game with your seatmates on your ride to school. You could play “I Spy” or you could count the blue cars you see on your ride.
Your teacher will help you understand how you are feeling about the differences in what is happening. Your friends will be telling everyone how they think and what is frustrating. That will be your chance to explain to them how you feel. It is okay to be upset or confused. Many kids will feel that way.
Kids and teachers will make mistakes until everyone becomes used to the new way of going to school. Everyone needs to be patient with each other because changes are hard to do, especially when there are so many happening at once.
1. Check the school website or contact your school to determine the details of the return to school from the coronavirus lockdown.
2. Talk to your children about aspects of returning to school in small chunks. Do not overwhelm them with too much information. It is okay to say, “I don’t know the answer, but I will try to find out for you.”
3. Try to be matter of fact about the entire situation. The calmer you are, the more relaxed your kids will be.
4. Remember to ask your child if they have any questions. Your child might be worrying about something that isn’t true. You can alleviate some of their stress with your answers.
5. If your child is anxious, you may want to consider a delayed entry back to school. Things will start to become routine after the first week, and that might be the most suitable time to have your child begin to participate in school.
6. Similarly, if your child becomes too anxious with all of the changes, you may want to withdraw them from school at this time, until things are less restrictive. Your child’s mental health is more important than academic progress over the next few months.
7. The school system is well aware that this is a difficult time. As a parent, you have the right to request support for your children and your family. So if you feel your child needs a special request, be sure to voice your concerns. Schools will take measures to accommodate all kids, if it is within their guidelines.
Remember, there is no textbook answer to the complications of the coronavirus. Don’t be reluctant to negotiate what you feel are the needs of your family. Contact the school with any of your concerns. They will make every effort to help you. We are all struggling to maintain our composure in these very trying times. And don’t forget to celebrate with your children their return to school.
Going to school is a big step back into our new normal state.
With careful preparations, your children can do their share in helping their community heal.