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4 Tips for Surviving Back-to-School 2020

The phrase Back-to-School always sparks many emotions in students, parents, and teachers: excitement, anxiety, relief, a sense of normalcy, and a longing for routines. It’s a time to prepare and reset, a time to celebrate, and a time for new beginnings. This year, however, those feelings are very different. Many of us are confused, fearful, uncertain, worried, and simply sad.

This is NOT the back-to-school we’re used to and it royally stinks!

We are looking to our leaders for comfort or a plan to ease our anxieties, yet everywhere we turn we’re coming up short. These vague instructions about being prepared for several scenarios to offer little relief and yet, there are no better solutions. So how do we cope with such uncertainty? How do we make the right decision to keep our children safe? How do we tackle taming this terrifying beast? I wish I had an answer for you. Instead, let me offer some thoughts about the things we can change and support.

Surviving Back-to-School 2020

First of all, let’s support each other. The choice to send your child to school (or not) is an extremely difficult one and circumstances are different for every family. So instead of imposing your views on other parents, let’s encourage each other and acknowledge how challenging this situation is.

Secondly, connect with your child’s teachers. Teachers are being asked to prepare for multiple scenarios and to possibly change how to deliver the curriculum at the drop of a “stat”. Stories of teachers contracting and spreading the virus haunt our thoughts as we walk through our classroom doors each day. We fear for ourselves, our families, and especially for your kids so if there was ever a time to be an ally with your child’s teacher, that time is now.

Thirdly, talk, and listen to your kids. Regular emotional check-ins are very important. Keep conversations candid, limit “scary” information, and focus on things your children can take charge of. Review hand washing and the use of sanitizer. Talk about personal space and how important it is to follow the new school rules. And be sure to share some of the emotionally charged conversations with their teachers so that you can work on solutions together.

Finally, the only thing we can prepare for is change. We are walking into one of the most unprecedented moments in our lives without a fool-proof plan. The information we are getting is constantly changing so expect the plan to change too – and often! It’s important for us to be flexible and for us to teach our kids to adapt to these changes as well. Despite the circumstances, these are truly great skills for our kids to have so let’s embrace these life lessons together.

For me, I keep telling myself this is all temporary. Our lives will eventually find a way toward a new normal and in a year or two, we will look back at these turbulent times and realize they made us stronger, more resilient, and kinder to each other.

Frank Emanuele is a proud father of two boys, a special education teacher, and a director of Dad Club London.


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