The coronavirus pandemic has indeed changed so much so quickly. Gatherings are no longer encouraged, nonessential businesses had to temporarily stop, and most schools are closed. Thus, many parents suddenly had an added responsibility to help their families adjust to the “new normal”. Part of this is the reopening of schools in fall – if they do decide to reopen this fall.
But how exactly can you prepare your kids to go back to school after everything that has happened? What will it be like post-pandemic? Well, to help you, we have gathered all you need to know and what to expect in sending your kids back to school.
What are Schools Saying?
Safety, of course, is the main issue when it comes to sending kids back to school. But with little information about how COVID-19 affects kids and how they can spread the virus, it’s difficult to say just how safe schools are for children today.
Angela Morabito, the spokesperson for the Department of Education, said in an interview with CNN that school reopenings depend on the state and local officials. She also stated that going back to school this fall may seem very different from previous years. In particular, she pointed out combining distance education and in-person instruction.
Experts are also looking at increased sanitization of school buses and classrooms, constant handwashing and temperature checks, and wearing of masks and other personal protective equipment both in teachers and children. It’s also highly likely that schools will follow new rules to encourage social distancing.
For example, lunches will be served to students at their desks. Or students will remain in a single classroom, sitting on their assigned seats that are spaced at least 6 feet apart while their teachers move from classroom to classroom.
Wayne Lewis, the dean of the College of Education at Belmont University at Nashville, said in an interview with U.S. News “The only thing for certain is that we are not certain.” So at this point, nothing is clear and nobody knows how the “new normal” for schools are going to look like.
What You Need to Know About Going Back to School After COVID-19
Policymakers and school leaders will only reopen schools when it’s safe for your kids. However, expect that it will look and feel different from what you and your kids are used to. According to Unicef, it’s also possible that schools may reopen and then closed again temporarily due to the evolving situation.
What does this mean? Well, you have to understand that reopening schools entails a lot of adjustments and changes along the way. So expect new rules and guidelines now and again. Also, keep in mind that it will take a while before a vaccine is widely available. Thus, these changes might not be temporary. Instead, they may last for this upcoming academic year and even for the following years.
The final thing you have to know is that, like it or not, schools are likely to open. Thus, you should be ready. But more importantly, your children should be prepared. To help you, we’ve listed some of the things you can do to prepare your child for going back to class.
What Do You Have To Do To Be Safe From The Virus?
The COVID-19 pandemic requires everyone to follow new safety protocols to prevent catching the virus and spreading it to others. Thus, it is important that as a parent, you teach children about these protocols.
1. Social Distancing
It has been proven that COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets from people who talk, sneeze, or cough. This is why you should teach kids to keep a certain distance from people to prevent such droplets from reaching them. However, that’s easier said than done, especially with younger children.
To make it slightly easier, you can take advantage of today’s technology and use informative videos. For example, here’s a catchy song about social distancing and keeping two meters away from other people. This video from Sesame Street where Abby and Rudy talk about practicing social distancing or this guide on how to explain social distancing to kids can be helpful as well.
2. Constant Hand Washing
Explain to your kids that the virus can spread or catch from holding contaminated surfaces, and then transferred to the nose or mouth. So teach them to constantly wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Or if soap and water are not readily available and your children are old enough, consider getting them a hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol.
3. Respiratory Etiquette
Encourage your kids to cover their mouths and noses with tissues when they cough or sneeze. After, they should dispose of the tissue immediately and wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water. Again, if not readily available, hand sanitizers will do.
4. Cloth Face Coverings
Face coverings or face masks are important, especially when physical distancing is impossible – which is likely the case in schools. However, this may be difficult for younger children. Thus, only reinforce the use of coverings if your kids are old enough and do not have trouble breathing while wearing one.
Before sending your children back to school, let them understand the concept of a “new normal”. Explain to them the changes they could expect, including reduced class sizes, sitting on assigned seats that are positioned farther apart, following a staggered schedule so there are fewer students attending school at the same time. Also, talk to them about the possibilities of canceling assemblies, gatherings, and sporting events.