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Facing fears: Back to school and COVID-19

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Facing fears: Back to school and COVID-19

We’re fast approaching the start of another school year. Like everything else in the light of COVID-19, there is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty about going back to school.

While fear can hinder, it can also help keep people safe. If parents learn to manage fear and anxiety well, they can pass that on to their students going into the classroom. Right now, it’s important to do the best we can in the face of uncertainty.

Tips before the year begins

Talk to your students

The Child Mind Institute has a checklist for talking to children about COVID-19. As the school year approaches, this advice can be helpful in making your child feel better about the changes and differences around them. Three key tips from the list are:

  • Welcome their questions
    Your child will most likely have many questions. Be patient and answer them as accurately as you can.
  • Don’t avoid questions you can’t answer
    While uncertainty may make a child anxious, it is important to be honest with them. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” Wrestling with this uncertainty will teach your child to keep going even when circumstances are unknown.
  • Focus on what you’re doing to stay safe
    Reassurance goes a long way in uncertain times. Reminding your student about sanitization protocols and personal hygiene can help keep them at ease.

Prepare for safety protocols

Schools around the country that are offering in-person instruction have many new and unfamiliar safety protocols in place. Make sure your students know about the guidelines their school has put in place.

Masks are one such guideline, and kids may struggle to keep them on during the school day. Consider practicing mask wearing with your student at home before they enter the classroom. You can even provide an incentive, like no screen time without a mask.

If possible, set up a workspace in your home

If you have the capability, set up a designated workspace for your student in your home. Keep it free of distractions, such as TV or video games.

Allow your student to make the space their own. A welcoming, comfortable workspace can increase productivity while minimizing distractions.

Tips for during the school year

Keep an eye on your student’s mental health

Long periods in isolation or without social interaction can harm your student’s mental well-being. Watch for signs of mental distress, anxiety, or depression.

Burrell Behavioral Health created a back to school guide for students and parents who have concerns about mental health.

Keep the school schedule as normal as possible

Routine has many benefits for people of all ages. In a time of great uncertainty, a consistent routine can help each day feel more normal.

Develop a support system for the hard days

Whether your student is home full-time, or they are in the classroom, some days will be easy and some will be hard. Remember that you are not alone in your struggles, and that it is important to have people to talk to.

Join video calls with other parents, reach out to teachers, and lean on your friends and family. Hard times are easier when you aren’t facing them alone.

Safe and Sober is here to help

We are gathering new curriculum for your students, all in our trusted virtual format. This means you can be part of Safe and Sober Programs from your home, the classroom, and anywhere in-between.

While this year looks different for us all, we are dedicated to providing your students with life-saving education, just as we have for 15 years.

We’re all in this together.

Lauren Stockam
Lauren@safeandsober.org

Lauren is the Public Relations intern at Safe and Sober. She is a graduate student at Missouri State University.

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