As the school year gets underway again against the backdrop of COVID-19, many still feel unsure of how things will unfold, or may already be experiencing the twists and turns of school closures.
Last year, dramatic changes to how school was conducted required immense flexibility on the part of kids and parents alike. As the school year gets underway again, many still feel unsure of how things will unfold, or may already be experiencing the twists and turns of school closures. Even those enjoying the return to in-person schooling may feel stressed or anxious, especially regarding the spread of COVID-19.
In times of uncertainty, like the one we find ourselves in now, taking steps to bolster your and your child’s emotional wellbeing can be incredibly helpful. The following are some principles to guide you as you engage with your child during another season of unpredictability.
Many parents think that they can’t share difficult or upsetting feelings with their children. But acknowledging how you’re feeling and modeling how to deal with challenging emotions may help your child learn what to do the next time they feel the same way. If your worry, sadness or anxiety becomes so intense that it is difficult for you to manage, it is important to seek support from your loved ones or a mental health professional. A Cleo Guide can help you find the resources right for you.
Be sensitive and attentive, and reassure them that their feelings are natural. Let them know they are not alone and that you’ll face their worries together.
The past year and a half has been full of unexpected changes and challenges. While it hasn’t been easy, your family is here and you’ve made it to another new school year. Talk with your children about all the ways how you have adapted to changes in the past. What helped you when times were challenging and what did you learn from those experiences?
With so many unknowns, it can be helpful to focus on the factors you can control. While you can’t predict how the pandemic will develop during the school year, you can have a plan ready for how you’ll adjust your lifestyle as risk levels may rise and fall.
Check out tiered rating systems that use rates of virus transmission to judge risk in your local area. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses local positive case rates to assign a risk level. The tracker helps identify what you and your family can think about doing based on the risks in your area. Tools like the New York Times case trackers can help you discover if positive cases are rising in your area.
Then, decide safety precautions you think your child should take at each tier. For example, if cases are lower in your area, you may follow base-level safety precautions. But as cases rise and reach a higher tier, you may choose to follow more.
To inform your plan, research factors such as your child’s health, your school’s policies, and your child’s caregiving and community needs.
While you don’t know when or how exactly things will change, you can take reassurance in knowing what you’ll do when the time comes. Remember, you can always revisit this plan, and it’s encouraged to consult your healthcare provider when making decisions about your child’s health and safety.
Note: This content has been reviewed by Dr. Stephanie Long, Cleo’s Director of Clinical Operations. Cleo aims to give the most accurate information, but details and recommendations about the pandemic may have changed since this piece was published. For the latest information, please check out resources from the World Health Organization, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and local public health departments.