The global COVID-19 pandemic left few facets of our lives untouched in its wake, fundamentally changing how we work and interact with one another. Now that vaccination has become more widely available and the disease has become slightly less fearsome, some of the components of our lives before the pandemic have begun to return. One of these is how our children go to school.
For most schools, throughout the pandemic, they were shut down and forced to engage in distance learning. Now, students have begun to return to the more structured classroom setting in international primary schools in Singapore.
This return to older practices brings with it a number of changes and challenges.
To prepare you and your child for these, here are some things to consider.
Discuss It with Your Child First
No matter how much you may have tried to shield your child from the news, it’s likely that they’ve picked up the state of things. From noticing how you haven’t gone to work in a while to no longer being able to go to the park or mall with their friends, the changes wrought by the coronavirus are not likely to have gone unnoticed. Now that life has begun to return to a semblance of what it was prior to the disease’s arrival, you need to begin a dialogue with your child about what that means.
Begin by attempting to determine your child’s state of mind about returning to school.
Are they anxious?
All of these?
Encouraging your child to be open with you and to keep you in the loop about how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking will be beneficial in the long run, and this will also allow you to choose the best course of action. Naturally, if your child is exhibiting signs of extreme emotions or is acting out, you should consult a pediatric mental health professional immediately.
Useful article: How online psychology can help with behavioural health matters.
If you’ve determined that your child is in the right headspace to return to a normal school environment, make sure to prepare them with the skills necessary to keep them safe. Remind them that they will need to keep their distance from their friends and classmates, even if they would like to hug or high-five them after not seeing them for so long.
Finally, remind them to always keep their masks on, especially when in enclosed spaces like classrooms. Make them aware that this is important for the safety of everyone in the family.
At the same time, try to keep the mood light while having this discussion with your child. Taking too grim a tack when talking about returning to school may frighten them and discourage them from going at all.
Keep your voice light and remind them that they can have fun and be with their friends, but that they have to do it in a way that’s a little different from how it used to be because of the virus.
Engage Your School in Dialogue on Safety
While discussing returning to school with your child is important, what’s equally important for ensuring your entire family’s safety is determining how prepared your child’s school is to receive them. The World Health Organization actually provides a checklist for schools to ensure that they’re ready to receive students again. Some of the items on this list are:
Make sure that as many of these guidelines as possible are in place at your child’s school. You may also want to ask about what the protocols at the school are for contact tracing and what you’ll have to do in case of an emergency or an infection at school.
Keep Tabs on Current Events Locally
Before thinking about sending your child back to school, make sure you’re aware of the situation in your immediate vicinity in relation to the virus. If infection rates in your area are climbing, sending your child back to school may not be advisable.
Also, in relation to this, assess how responsive your community leaders have been to instances of breakouts and sudden rises in infection levels.
Are they well-equipped to deal with an infection if it happens?
Have they responded decisively to other such instances in the past?
Being able to answer these questions will give you a better understanding of how they will respond in an emergency.
Returning to school has a number of benefits for students, teachers, and parents. However, because of the times we live in, allowing our kids back into a normal classroom environment must be done safely and responsibly to prevent any outbreaks and keep our families safe.