The year 2020 has brought a lot of new challenges with it. I don’t know if any of us thought sending our kids back to school would look so different this year than it has in previous years. We are in unprecedented times sending our children back to school amidst a global pandemic, and with this brings a lot of new challenges we all have to navigate this school year.
I am sure many of us have a lot of questions regarding how schools will operate, what kind of safety measures will be in place, how will busing students back and forth work, and the list of questions goes on.
I am sure a lot of us did not think our kids would be heading back to school in full capacity this year; however, our government recently announced that schools will be open in the fall of 2020.
I am here with some tips on how to help ease your children back into the new dynamics of the school routine.
One of the first things parents, staff, and students will have to do on a DAILY basis is a self-screening test before heading off to school for the day. As a parent, if you plan to visit the school for any reason, you will also have to take the self-screening test before entering a school. If you would like to see an example of the self-screening test, click here.
What If My Child Has a Pre-existing Medical Condition?
I know how confusing and intimidating this time can be on a parent, especially if your little one suffers with any sort of health condition prior to the pandemic; I personally would not want to send my child back to school if they had any medical conditions. Luckily in Alberta, there are some options for parents of children who physically cannot be in contact with other children:
Firstly, if you are concerned for any reason about your child going back to school, contact your doctor to discuss your concerns with them. Doctor’s can either help put your mind at ease in reassuring you that your child does not have any significant risk factors, or they can discuss with you your child’s risk factors and help make a decision whether returning to school is in the best interest of your child.
Secondly, if your doctor wants your child to stay away from a classroom setting at this time, contact your school to let them know and so you can discuss options with your local school board.
The Government of Alberta is also asking that if a student does show COVID-19 symptoms who has allergies or other pre-existing medical conditions that cause similar symptoms should get at least one negative COVID-19 test result before returning to school.
Returning to School Safely
It is important to explain to your children what changes are going to be made going back to school, as there will be a few changes for the upcoming school year. It is normal for any child to feel anxious about going back to school because a lot of what we see and hear on the news, TV, radio can be pretty negative and downright depressing, so it is important to reassure your child that they are safe going back to school!
Talk to your children about the self-screening questionnaire, go through it with them, and if you have young children, practice it leading up to school resuming in the fall.
Talk to your children about the different changes they will see at school, like wearing masks or the constant use of hand sanitizer.
Have you been taking your children to play at playgrounds over the summer? If you have, then your kids should already know the guidelines for safely playing on playground equipment. If they haven’t been to the playground, talk to them about the changes that will be coming to the playground once they return to school.
If you have younger kids, take them to the park and let them play, while you share physical distancing rules with them and help them to understand that they have to remain distanced from other children. Also make sure your kids know not to put their hands in their mouth after they play on equipment, and mostly importantly, use hand sanitizer before and after playing on playground equipment to help prevent the spread of any germs.
Tips to Stay Healthy
As always, these are tips we should all be following right now, but it is really important to remind our children of ways to keep themselves, their friends and classmates, and school staff safe. Remind them to:
- cover their cough in their elbow
- stay home from school when sick
- maintain a safe distance from others (teach your children what 6 feet is by relating it to something that is easy for them to remember how far apart it is)
- washing their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds
- use sanitizer when soap and water are not available
- do not share personal items.
It is hard for children to understand why it is important that we do not share our food or any other personal items; however, this is very important. We have to remember that we do not know who is on the other side of door at other peoples homes. Some people may have loved ones who have prior medical conditions making it deadly for them to get sick.
We all need to do our part in ensuring that our kids are properly equipped with, not only the proper school supplies, but also equipped with the understanding of why these changes are being implemented and how to use the knowledge to keep everyone safe.
Remember, if you are nervous for any reason, speak with your child’s doctor, speak with the school, or even go to your school board to have them answer any questions you have. Being well informed is the best way to help our children understand what is going on, the changes that will be made, and the constant bombardment of new information we are getting on a daily basis.
For more information on the re-entry program, visit the Government of Alberta’s website here or visit the Government of Alberta’s Education website here. If your child is in the Parkland County School Division, you can check out information from their website here. These three websites are great resources to help prepare you and your child for back to school in the fall, and there are also some great videos to help the younger kids learn about what is going on.
I hope everyone has a great end of summer and I hope the transition back to school is as smooth as it possibly can be! Stay healthy and stay safe.