Parents everywhere are asking that question about school. What happens if it’s closed again next year and it doesn’t reopen? And what happens if my school does school intermittently and I don’t have childcare? What happens if school starts back? Will my child be safe? The amount of “what ifs” could drive you crazy.

Most likely, school next year will look different in each school and district. It won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach to opening schools. The Department of Education may give guidelines, but it’ll also be up to state governors and health officials. 

Some organizations are creating “roadmaps” or “blueprints” for a plan to reopen schools: https://returntoschoolroadmap.org or https://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2020/05/covid-19-reopen-schools-aei.html  But what will happen to your child’s school? What should you do to be prepared for any of the potential options that could happen? We also know that some teacher unions are creating some non-negotiables that must be in place for physical schools to reopen. In light of all the uncertainty, here are our thoughts on how to prepare for the following:

 

Physical school continues in 2021-2022:

Great! Back to the normal school routine with modifications in the school building to uphold health and safety guidelines. If this is the case, we would want parents to prepare by getting their students mentally and emotionally ready for a new kind of school day. 

Make the Choice:

  • Some schools may be giving an option for students to go to school physically or still have the option to be remote as the transition to reopen continues. You and your family should consider this option and decide what would be best for your child if that question is posed. 

Social-Emotional Preparation: 

  • Prepare your student to understand the possibility of the following regulations in schools:
    • More frequent required hand washing 
    • Smaller class sizes
    • Spaced out desks (6 ft apart)
    • Increased Social-Emotional teaching in schools
    • Eating lunch at their desk and not in the lunchroom
    • Staggered recess or no recess

 

Intermittent School in 2021-2022:

If this is the case and school returns, but not every day Monday-Friday, there are a few scenarios you should prepare for if there are working parents in the home. Some options for intermittent school include only going to school every other day, going to school just in the morning or just in the afternoon, going to school on certain days based on your last name or age, etc. There have also been discussions that if school either is at home for part of the time or continues to be fully remote next year, that schools would partner with TV providers to stream lessons on TV to cut down on the need for wifi, phone data charges, and laptop/computer devices.

  • Parent can work from home

Create a schedule with your child during the times/days they are home. Stick to that routine as you work with your child. If possible, try to schedule less during the times your child is at home. 

  • Parent needs to go into work but have childcare

Whoever is providing childcare, make sure they are up to date on what the child is doing at school and if any assignments or learning activities need to be done during the time they are not at school. We recommend the childcare provider or family member receive school communications and teacher messages so they are aware of the child’s learning requirements. 

  • Parent needs to go into work but does not have childcare

Ask your school leader if there are any alternate schedules or priority status for students of essential workers at school. If not, reach out to community centers or organizations to see if there are daycare providers for essential workers. If your child is old enough to be alone during the day, make sure to create a schedule they can follow and accountability measures to ensure they are doing their school work during the “at home” times. 

 

School Continues to be Virtual in 2021-2022

There is a high probability school may continue to be fully virtual at the start of next school year. What can your family do  to plan for that option to continue?

  • Parent can work from home

This is most likely the situation most of you are currently in, unless you are an essential worker. Reflect on what has been working for you and your family and what hasn’t been. During the summer, proactively discuss and plan for what a “school day” would look like if this continued. Get your student’s feedback and come to an agreement together on a strong routine, ample brain break opportunities, and enough time for you to get your work done. By creating the routine with your child, it gives them ownership and will be more likely to be followed. 

  • Parent needs to go into work but has childcare

Similar to the intermittent school situation, ensure that whoever is providing childcare, make sure they are up to date on what the child is doing at school and if any assignments or learning activities need to be done during the time they are not at school. We recommend the childcare provider or family member receive school communications and teacher messages so they are aware of the child’s learning requirements. 

  • Parent needs to go into work but does not have childcare

Reach out to community centers or organizations to see if there are daycare providers for essential workers. If your child is old enough to be alone during the day, make sure to create a schedule they can follow and accountability measures to ensure they are doing their school work during the “at home” times.