Planning for In-Person Classes
Going back to school this fall will require schools and families to work together even more than before. Schools will be making changes to their policies and operations with several goals: supporting learning; providing important services, such as school meals, extended daycare, extracurricular activities, and social services; and limiting the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Teachers and staff can teach and encourage preventive behaviors at school. Likewise, it will be important for families to emphasize and model healthy behaviors at home and to talk to your children about changes to expect this school year. Even if your child will attend school in-person, it is important to prepare for the possibility of virtual learning if school closes or if your child becomes exposed to COVID-19 and needs to stay home.
We have prepared a checklist for a safe return to school : Checklist for Parents
If your school is requiring or encouraging the use of masks, think about the following actions. Consider asking what steps your school will take to minimize the potential for students to be singled out or teased for wearing or not wearing a mask. Appropriate and consistent use of masks may be challenging for some children. Wearing masks should be a priority when it is difficult for students to stay 6 feet apart from each other (e.g., during carpool drop off or pick up, when entering the building or standing in line at school, or while on the bus).
Masks should not be worn by:
- Children younger than 2 years old
- Anyone who has trouble breathing
- Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance
Actions to take and points to consider:
- Have multiple masks, so you can wash them daily and have back-ups ready. Choose masks that
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
- Completely cover the nose and mouth
- Are secured with ties or ear loops
- Include multiple layers of fabric
- Allow for breathing without restriction
- Can be washed and machine dried without damage or change to shape
- Label your child’s masks clearly in a permanent marker so that they are not confused with those of other children.
- Practice with your child putting on and taking off cloth face coverings without touching the cloth.
- Explain the importance of wearing a mask and how it protects other people from getting sick.
- If you have a young child, help build their comfort wearing a mask and become comfortable seeing others in masks.
- Praise your child for wearing a mask correctly.
- Put a mask on stuffed animals.
- Draw a mask on a favorite book character.
- Show images of other children wearing masks.
- Allow your child to choose their mask that meets any dress requirements your school may have.
- Consider providing your child with a container (e.g., labeled resealable bag) to bring to school to store their masks when not wearing it (e.g., when eating).
Mental Health & Social-Emotional Wellbeing Considerations:
Since the school experience will be very different from before with desks far apart from each other, teachers maintaining physical distance, and the possibility of staying in the classroom for lunch, it is unlike anything your child is used to. Before school is in session, you may want to talk to your child and explain that all these steps are being taken to keep everyone safe and healthy. The list below provides actions and considerations regarding your child’s mental health and emotional well-being as they transition back to in-person school.
Actions to take and points to consider:
- Talk with your child about how school will look different (e.g., desks far apart from each other, teachers maintaining physical distance, possibility of staying in the classroom for lunch).
- Talk with your child about how school is going and about interactions with classmates and teachers. Find out how your child is feeling and communicate that what they may be feeling is normal.
- Anticipate behavior changes in your child. Watch for changes like excessive crying or irritation, excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, difficulty concentrating, which may be signs of your child struggling with stress and anxiety.
- Try to attend school activities and meetings. Schools may offer more of these virtually. As a parent, staying informed and connected may reduce your feelings of anxiety and provide a way for you to express any concerns you may have about your child’s school.
- You can be a role model for your child by practicing self-care:
- Take breaks
- Get plenty of sleep
- Eat well
- Stay socially connected