Parents of school-aged kids are finding it hard to consider the reality of the 2020-21 school year. We’re going through a time like no other, one none of us is completely equipped to handle. Most of us are probably asking: What will school look like next year and how will I keep my kids safe?
What will school look like this fall?
That depends on where you live, what your school district is able to deal with, and how old your child is. School for a 4th grader in Montana is going to look very different than a 12th grader in New York City. Right now, many school district leaders are looking to what is working well in other countries, for example:
- Austria has students divided into groups, which alternate days they attend to keep classes sizes smaller
- Vietnam has reduced in-person schooling and gone to online and televised instruction
- Denmark is spacing out the desks, so students are six feet apart
Because states are in different stages of stay-at-home orders, many boards of education have not begun making solid plans for their students. Some ideas include continuing full-time schooling online, partial in-class and at-home studies, limiting the size of classes and school hours, and opening back up with no changes or restrictions.
This is a difficult discussion because there is no way to quell every parents’ worries. Some families are concerned about overall health issues, especially if there are family members with serious health conditions. Other families aren’t able to afford a computer and internet access. As tough as all of our issues may be, there have to be some concessions made to get our children back in school.
Preparing to go back to school
Again, this is going to look different for each family and probably each student. It would be a good idea to keep an eye on your school district’s website or local news to know what sort of changes and requirements will be made for students by the start of the new school year.
Once you know this information, you will be able to sit down with each child and let them know what classrooms, lunches, playtime, and extracurricular schedules will look like. If returning to school includes wearing a mask and not sharing anything with other students, you will probably want to prepare your younger children by instilling in them the necessity of not fiddling with their masks and how to social distance.
For older children, the conversation may not involve instructions on social distancing but could include rules about the number of friends to be around or have in your home.
How will I keep my child safe?
Each school and school district is looking into the needs and demands of their student population and working to find the best solutions to make sure everyone is safe and healthy. But there is no way to ensure that COVID-19 or any other illness won’t make their ways into our lives and our schools. The best way to protect them is to help them understand the importance of not sharing personal items so as not to spread germs, washing their hands often, avoiding touching their mouth and eyes, and coughing/sneezing into their elbow instead of hand.
As much as we instruct our children and give them all the information they could possibly need, if we aren’t practicing what we preach, they will not see the importance of our teachings and will not make a habit of protecting themselves.
School may look quite different for our kids this fall, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming for our young ones or life-altering for our older ones; the way they go about their daily activities will change, but we can help them to see the importance and make these new routines a normal part of life.