It’s not too early to think about school

I’d like to begin this piece with a shout-out to all educators. My husband was a math teacher for 35 years before moving into alumni relations this year. Lots of our friends and many of our neighbors are teachers. So even though our children are grown and we personally missed the challenge of remote learning during a pandemic, we witnessed the astounding fortitude, creativity, and flexibility shown by people with students in their care.

According to the World Economic Forum, 1.2 billion children in 186 countries had to leave their classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic. We shifted, adjusted, and kept adapting as things changed. For many, the 2020-21 school year ended with deep breaths of relief as vaccines made it possible for schools to reopen.

While it may seem like we just finished the school year, the 2021-22 academic year is only weeks away. Depending on where you live, your children may already be in school.

Here are few ways you can prepare for the start of school:

– Continue to stay connected to your school district or private school communication channels. Know what they plan to require, what might change from last year, and what might stay the same. Hours might vary, or schedules may be staggered to allow for more space between students of different grades. Will students still need masks, and will there be a hybrid option?

– Stay informed about the COVID situation in your region, or anywhere you might have to travel to attend school — college campuses in another state or country, for example. Though this can change rapidly, especially with the Delta variant spreading. Country entry regulations are fluid. Monitor trusted sources so you are aware of changes discussed or if adjustments become necessary.

– Take care of your general health, so that you and your children are in the best possible condition when returning to more crowded buildings and activities.

-Take stock of tech and other materials that will maximize the learning experience – whatever it may be in the fall. Take the time now to set up a place to study and focus, for general work done at home but also in the event that in-person attendance is scaled back for some period of time.

– Vaccination requirements are still unknown in many schools. Will they be required of eligible students? Arrange now to obtain the vaccine or find out how to proceed with school preparations if you plan to forgo it.

– Learn which extracurricular activities might resume, and how. If your child played a sport or an instrument – and teams or bands were cancelled last year – some conditioning and practice might be useful this summer before resuming the activity.

– Reach out to friends and family and plan any visits that are feasible while school is out of session.  Not only can this bring isolated family members closer, it immerses your children in the family experiences of which they were deprived.  The recognition, connections, and love among family members are important for personal development and emotional grounding.

– Do something completely freeing and enjoyable! After enduring so much stress and change, treat yourself to a healthy break and do something that lifts your spirits.

The good news is that we had to adapt in so many ways last year, we already have many fire-tested contingency plans available to us, and plenty of materials and know-how when it comes to physical distancing and hygiene. Contrary to March 2020 when we were plunged into a frightening, unknown situation, we now have knowledge and experience with practical measures that can help us in the future.

Written by Ellen Harris, GMS, Product Manager, Content Group