For the Covid-19 Pandemic
It’s the middle of August, and if you haven’t started thinking about back to school yet, you’re going to thinking about it very soon. But this year, back to school is not like any other year. We are still in the middle of a pandemic, there are still cases of Covid popping up every day, we are still mandated to wear masks and maintain physically distancing.
And in this climate of worry, disease, fear and uncertainty parents are being told to send their kids back to school. Teachers are being told to head back into their classrooms. And kids are being told…what? That it is safe? To wear a mask? I’m not exactly sure.
A lot of difficult choices are being made during this pandemic. And we are currently facing the next one: do we or do we not send our children back to school? The choice is not going to be easy for any family, and it’s going to depend on each’s family’s circumstances. But if you are sending your kids back to school, here are some tips to help ease your mind.
Make the Best Choice for Your Child and Your Family
Make the choice you are most comfortable with, and able to do. If the idea of sending your child into a school right now sends your mind spiralling and your heart racing, you might want to consider other options. Make sure you have all the available information about your choices from your child’s school or board, and go from there. Don’t let your friends, family or Facebook chats influence your choice. Do what you feel is best for your family and know that there is no right or wrong. We are all just doing our best right now.
Brown Bag Lunch
I’m usually all for bringing containers, but honestly, this year I think it might actually be best to brown bag kids (and maybe even your own) lunches. It’s less to worry about sanitizing, and if you use actual brown bags you are still being kind to the environment. It’ll also be easier on teachers because they won’t have to help your child clean a spilled yogurt or drink out of their lunch bag, or figure out how to send that home to you safely.
Prepare Healthy Meals
Eating a well balanced diet rich with fruits and veggies is a must to maintain your overall physical health and keeping a healthy immune system. So get those nutrients into your kid by providing healthy meals. I know kids can be picky eaters, and darn stubborn too, but there has never been a better time to fight this battle with your child. Provide fruits such as strawberries, sliced applies, banana for lunch–nice and easy and not too messy. Hummus and carrots make a great after school snack. Mix peas with sweet corn as a dinner side and offer sweet potato fries and veggies soups. Chicken fingers and fries can be their weekend reward.
Don’t Send too Many Things with Your Child
As a teacher, I can tell you there is such a thing as sending too much stuff to school. Toys are sent (it doesn’t matter that I ask they not be sent), sunscreen (it doesn’t matter that I cannot help apply it), hand sanitizer (it doesn’t matter that we have three sinks in our classroom and provide soap and sanitizer), bracelets and headbands and balls and trading cards. Half of that stuff really is only a distraction, and really, this year when we are hyper focused on hand washing and sanitizing, less is more.
Keep Things as Normal as Possible
If you normally buy your child some back to supplies, do it! Label the new pencil case and if you are really worried, tell your child not to share. The school provides lots of pencils and art supplies so your kid shouldn’t have to–at least we do in Ontario. Get them some new shoes, a hat, whatever you would normally do. And for the love of God, don’t do a back to school with Covid photo for the first day of school. Or one were your child is wearing a mask. It’s not cute, it just creates anxiety. Yes, your child may have to wear a mask, but they should be made to understand that is temporary. Not something they will be doing for the rest of their lives.
Have a Plan B
It’s important to have a plan of action in case you are unhappy with the environment your chid is attending school. Check with your employer if working from home is an option, or check with family to see if anyone can stay with your child. Also have a plan in place in case your child is at school and they contact you saying he/she is unwell. It happens, we get sick during the day. Have an arrangement with your spouse or other family so that your child can be picked up from school quickly. Too often I see sick kids waiting hours in the office for a parent to pick them up and that is unacceptable. Especially during a pandemic. Have plans in place in case so that if something should happen, you know what your next steps are goingto be.
In Case Your Child Does Get Sick
My first recommendation is breathe. There are tons of cough and colds and flu viruses out there. Let’s bear that in mind. Keep your child home. Many parents send their child to school when they have the sniffles, or a mild cough because hey, that’s life. But not this year. Keep your child home, contact your doctor and take it from there. And again, remember that it’s probably not Covid.
You Can Always Change Your Mind
Nothing is set in stone with this pandemic. You can always chose to remove your child from the classroom and continue with remote learning. You may have wait to do so until natural breaks in the year (when one term ends for instance, or after a holiday) but the point here is that you have choices.
Don’t be Too Hard on Yourself
Don’t be too hard on yourself. We are all doing the best we can given the circumstances and where we are in our lives. We are doing the best we can given our finances. We are doing the best we can with working with our employers to make safe choices for our families. We are doing the best we can given the medical conditions of our families. We are doing the best we can and if you think someone is doing better, they are not, they just have different circumstances.
It’s been tough on everyone for months now. But what keeps me level head most days is knowing that, this too shall pass. This is temporary, pandemics don’t last forever. We are doing our best, measures are being taken, everyone is working hard to keep people healthy. This too shall pass.
Is your child’s school opening? Share your thoughts below.