Navigating “Back-to-School” This Fall

Going “back-to-school” is challenging for most families each year. Getting back into a routine, saying farewell to summer, and preparing for new teachers, learning, and even new schools can be overwhelming. This year, the school year holds even more uncertainties as all of us try to figure out what is best for our children, and our families. Should we opt for remote learning? What is the best way to keep our kids safe and the ones we love healthy? As backpacks are being dusted off or purchased and kids return to learning, one thing we do know is that we are all navigating strange, somewhat unknown and scary, circumstances.

Fortunately, many schools in our districts are letting the families choose. In some cases, remote learning may be your only option…at least for the first semester. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) state that children learn better when they receive in-school learning. With that said, important steps need to occur to keep our children safe and healthy, minimizing the spread of COVID-19.

In most cases, school leaders, teachers, administrators, experts and health officials have been working together to have a plan to move forward with virtual learning as another option if COVID cases begin to increase in the community. Pediatricians, including Dr. Kellow, believes evidence so far suggests that our children are less likely to have symptoms or become severely ill from infection. It is also believed that they are less likely to become infected or spread COVID to others.

More to Consider About In-School Learning.

Although schools provide the necessary learning for our children to succeed and prosper, it’s more about their overall development than just academics. Social as well as emotional skills are a necessary benefit of in-school learning, helping in overall health and wellness as children grow. Building relationships with others, learning time management away from home and in a classroom, is important so our children build confidence as they mature. In many cases, schools also provide healthy meals, internet access and services they may not be receiving at home.

What Many Schools are Doing to Keep Kids Safe.

By splitting class sizes in half by last name and what day of the week they can attend, along with offering remote learning options, most class sizes are going to be smaller in the fall. The goal is to keep desks farther apart in the classrooms and hallways less busy. Some schools are also shortening the in-school learning days and this will help in the regular cleaning that is now happening in the schools.

Most schools are now requiring face masks to attend, for students and teachers, along with daily health checklists that need to be filled out by parents verifying your child is healthy and can attend class that day. Some schools are also making temperature checks mandatory. Even though it is thought that teachers are more likely to get COVID from other adults than their students, it is recommended that a safe 6 feet distance be practiced while together.

Other changes schools may implement include assigned seats while riding the bus, more outdoor activities when weather permits, and limiting larger groups during lunch time and other all school events. In some cases, lunches may occur in the classroom instead of the cafeteria. Hallways can also be marked with “one-way” arrows to encourage a better flow when going from class to class.

How to Help Your Child During the Transition.

All of us are feeling more anxious about what lies ahead. Wondering the best way to help your child during this transition? Show them you care and listen to them. By recognizing that you are sensitive to all of their emotions and want to be there for them, and by explaining that their feelings are normal, you are doing the best you can in an unprecedented time. Your school is also most likely anticipating increased mental health needs for students as schools begin to open back up. If your child isn’t coping well,  take advantage of the many resources available or contact our office for assistance.

Back-to-school this year certainly doesn’t feel normal, but there are many people pulling together to make the best of a strange situation. Putting plans in place to keep your child and family safe has been a priority, and all of us should be thankful that so many are working diligently for such an important cause: our children’s health and wellness. If you have questions or if your child needs a back-to-school health exam, give us a call at 618-235-2311 or visit us online at