By Cammie Jones

 

A lot will be different when our children go back to school this year. I question whether we will ever return to the pre-epidemic state of schools. Yet, as things move forward, we must remain flexible and encourage our students to do the same. Here are some specific ways flexibility plays a large role in our future success.

Expect Physical Changes
The cleaning protocol takes precedence now in schools. Masks may be required as well as hand sanitizers in all public areas. There will be 6-feet apart social distancing. Desks will be re-positioned, and, in many cases, they may be removed as an effort to secure safe spacing. Class size may require adjustments through alternate or hybrid schedules. 

Also, hallways and lunchrooms will look different. Expect new protocols to serve lunch with stricter sanitization rules and less seating. Uni-directional halls with signs and arrows will be displayed to reduce over-crowding and keep students moving. 

Embrace Distance Learning
I think that every email I have received from elementary school to the college level has insinuated that we will have some sort of distance learning during the upcoming school year. Columbia County is giving families a choice for Learning from Home (LFH) or the traditional face-to-face school option. Richmond County is offering something similar. Whatever you choose, it must be maintained for an entire semester for high school and one grading period for elementary and middle. You cannot toggle back and forth from at-home learning to face-to-face school. 

Distance learning may be necessary for all students throughout the year if there is another outbreak of Covid-19. We just cannot predict the future or what the national/state/local governments will require. I think the best advice is to understand that distance learning is here to stay and remain thankful for it as an option. 

Set a Positive Tone
This new norm is not the end of the world. If the words “distance learning” make your gut queasy, try looking for something good about it. A positive attitude sets the overall tone in your home. It is understandable to voice complaints, but an encouraging outlook for the upcoming school year will help to maintain fewer emotional interruptions through the transition.

Creating a distance learning space for your child encourages adaptability. It can be at the kitchen table or their desk in their room.  Set it up with everything they will need to be productive— a computer or tablet, a bottle of water, a small plant or favorite picture of friends in a frame,  maybe a schedule of some sort tacked to a bulletin board or a place for paper and folders. This will identify a comfortable area where your child can concentrate and focus for school tasks. 

Find Outside Sources to Help
If your child is nervous or wary of all the unknowns before starting school, look to experts for help. Many community resources are available who can talk with your child, one on one, about their anxieties.  There is written information, as well, that you can share with your child if he/she shows signs of discomfort like anxiety, depression, worry or anger. Your church is a great place to start. Having your pastor, priest or youth minister speak with your child is a wonderful way to help him/her know they are not alone.

Also, if you or your child is worried about being behind as school ramps up in the fall, workbooks are a great way to gain confidence. Taking time each day to practice math or reading will benefit your child in the long run. Even as little as 20 minutes a day is beneficial.

Change is Productive
Most of the time, change is productive, albeit not easy.  We must remind ourselves that most of life’s ills are temporary. Some measures may stick around a little longer such as washing hands more frequently, wearing masks and social distancing but, for the most part, we are expecting that Covid-19 will eventually be resolved. 

We have been given the ability to control how we react to situations. Keeping this reminder close in mind will help begin the school year with the advantage of knowing that this, too, in time shall pass!

 

This article appears in the August/September 2020 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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