Transitioning Kids Back To In- Person School. What To Know.

Rear view of large group of students raising their arms to answer the question on a class at elementary school.

How to Help Your Child Transition Back to In-Person Classes

For many parents, deciding whether to allow their kids to physically return to the classroom is easy. For others, it’s a struggle. There is so much to consider, even aside from the risk of catching COVID, but one thing is certain. YOU know your child best! Not all kids thrive in a classroom environment, and not all thrive during remote learning. Fortunately, you have options and distant learning, and pandemic protocols are improving. If you’re leaning towards returning your children to in-person classes, this is how to help your child transition back to in-person classes

Discuss Expectations and Uncertainties With Your Child

Preparing to return to the classroom begins with many honest conversations to set expectations and discuss ways of dealing with uncertainty and apprehension. Think of it like this; you are arming your child with the emotional tools necessary to deal with all the changes. How will pandemic school look different than pre-pandemic school? These are some things to discuss, and your school district is your best resource for information.

Changes in schools’ structure may include:

  • Cohorts or pods: Students, teachers, and student aids are divided into distinct groups that stay together throughout the whole school day during in-person classroom instruction. Schools might allow minimal if any interaction between cohorts. This can be upsetting to children if their friends are in different groups and they aren’t allowed to socialize.
  • Hybrid: This is a mix of virtual learning and in-class learning. Usually, it’s a two-day classroom and three at-home setup, but it varies by state and school district. Hybrid options may also apply a cohort approach to the in-class education component.
  • Mask mandate: Your child will likely be required to wear a mask at all times during in-person classes. Regardless of your personal feelings towards mask-wearing, try to mentally prepare your child to comply so they can avoid being chastised by their teacher and will stay safe.
  • Lunchtime and recess will look much different: Get the details from your school district and review it with your child.
  • Social-distancing: Your child will also likely have to stay six feet away from other children as much as physically possible. Most of us don’t enjoy physical distancing. It’s counter to our biological nature, so discuss how that will feel with your child. Allow them to express their concerns and sadness.

In-Person Learning Checklist

This is a summarized version fo the CDC’s return to classroom checklist:

  • Check your child each morning for any signs of illness, and if your child has a temperature of 100 degrees or higher, a cough, or anything else COVID-related, they should NOT go to school.
  • If your child has had close contact with anyone that has recently tested positive for COVID-19, they should not go to school. Follow the CDC guidance on what to do when someone has known exposure.
  • Know your school point person(s) to contact if your child gets COVID.
  • Show your child how to correctly wash their hands and instruct them to practice proper handwashing at school Make handwashing fun and explain to your child why it’s crucial.
  • Develop a daily before and after school routine/schedule and review it with your child.
  • Develop a plan as a family to protect any vulnerable household members who might be at increased risk for severe illness.
  • Check that your emergency contact information is current with your school.
  • Plan for possible school closures or periods of quarantine and have a plan ready to deal with it. Can you or your partner work remotely if needed or take leave from work? Do you have someone who can supervise your kids in the event of school closures or required quarantine?
  • Discuss transportation:
    • If your child will ride a bus, make sure they wear a mask on the bus and review the importance of following bus rules, including social-distancing.
    • If your child will be carpooling, discuss what that will look like and what they can expect.
  • If your school uses a cohort model, try to limit their in-person out-of-school interactions to children in the same cohort or to activities where social-distancing is possible.

As you can see, the transition back to school requires a lot of patience and honest discussion with all involved. Talk about it with your children and encourage them to be empathetic with their teachers, bus drivers, siblings, and others. Remind them that this will pass, and as overwhelming as it is, the situation is only temporary.

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