I want parents to, first of all, know that this is not a normal time and that I hope to give you some ideas for how you can have some potential tools for your toolbox to handle any educational situation or question you have.
Firstly, some schools are going back in person. This will not be the in-person you have experienced before COVID-19, so I want to paint a picture of what this will mean for your child and your family and then some ideas for how you can prepare your family right now for these changes and protocols:
The first thing to expect has to do with paperwork and testing.
Here are some ideas for how to manage this –
- You can take a look at the liability forms and daily health checks as soon as possible, get used to filling out the daily checks online as part of your morning schedules (getting up a bit earlier) – you can get a mid-sized whiteboard for the start of school to help everyone keep the daily schedule top of mind.- this can also help you as a parent to be mindful of all of the new tasks you have to consider through this transition.
- Your family may decide to also get regular COVID-19 tests- and the idea here is to be mindful of how you talk about the test in front of your child. It will benefit your child to see an example of how to stay calm and collected during the testing process. Children often take our lead on how to approach the unknown and the poking and prodding that accompanies medical testing. For my family, we have been tested, and I don’t love these things, but used distractions and hand-holding and ice cream after to make it better. We did it together and that seemed to make it tolerable…like we are all in this together (which we have been since March -ps)
Protocols are in place in order to minimize COVID-19 exposure – this may include:
- Face Masks – your child will most likely be required to wear a mask for the majority of the day. The best way to prepare for this is to go out and get one now. Pick one out that your child likes and have them practice wearing it for 30-45 minutes and demonstrate how to have breaks – what to do with sneezes (sneeze into your mask and then replace your mask).
- Limited movement for students around the school– this means your child may be needing more movement outside of school hours, you might want to consider taking PM family walks or doing obstacle courses in the park on a daily basis to compensate for the lack of movement during the day
- Schools may also encourage outdoor or open-air instruction– you will want to find out more about this and also invest in gear that can support your child being outdoors as the weather gets colder.
- In the classroom, your child may see new things such as Air filters, Sneeze Guards, private materials (not for sharing) – you might learn about these things and talk with your children about them.
- Students will need to be mindful of their social distance, face masks (keeping track of them)
- You might want to set up an at-home station where you have masks to wash, clean masks, bins for bags, coats, and reminders to handwash
If there is COVID-19 illness, schools or pods/cohorts may shutter. Parents should have a backup plan for if and when this happens – especially with regard to child care.
Some families are enrolled in schools that are having full-time in-person school and do not wish to send their children. If this is your case, I have seen many families connect with their school’s directors or principals to find options for education for their children. We’ll get to some other scenarios soon- but this is an option for you if you do not wish to send your child to the physical building.
The second scenario for schooling this fall is a hybrid or remote schooling approach. In the hybrid approach, students will attend school for part of the time and be in distance or remote learning for the other part of the time.
The hybrid approach means that you as a family have to be versed in supporting both in-person and remote systems of education.
When you go to school you need to do all of the things I mentioned above- having face masks, hand washing, medical checks, etc. and on days at home, your student needs a whole new set up for learning. An idea for how to manage both systems is to get a monthly wall calendar so that your child knows what days they’ll be home and what days they’ll be in school.
There are certainly advantages to being both at home and in school. Some students have found the remote learning environment to provide focused work time that is not always found in school. Other students have found the experience to be lonely and disengaging. Days in school are going to be taxing with regard to face mask-wearing, social distancing, and peer time spent together in one classroom with little m movement – so changing this up for students can be helpful. Many families of course worry about the additional exposure from child care which may have to happen on remote learning days within hybrid models. In-person teaching allows teachers to see students in action and to assess them differently than over a computer.
The key idea I’ve been going to when thinking about remote instruction this fall is –
HOW exactly will my student experience what the school will be doing this fall?
Will your child be meeting live with teachers? When? Will your child have work to do on their own time? How will this be delivered and organized? How much do you as a parent need to be involved in facilitating the learning process?
Once you determine what the experience will be like, then you also need to figure out what you need in terms of support for those days your child will be home. You might need child care, a college student to come in and facilitate your child’s transitions from computers at lunchtime to socially distanced running around time in the park, and/or you might need a teacher or a tutor to dive into areas of more skilled instruction.
For remote learning, families will need WiFi access – we ended up with about 5 google nest routers, and an actual computer or device for each student, as well as materials which will facilitate learning off of the computer that is recommended by the classroom teacher.
Every student is different in how they learn, but from a macro standpoint, they need to be engaged in the learning process – which means the content can not be too easy or too difficult and they need access to instruction that allows them to learn.
Many families are wondering what to do if their child does not arrive at ZOOM learning –
Some ideas on this include:
- Why are they not engaged? Observe them. Ask them. For students grades 1 and up – Tell them what you notice and ask them what’s up.
- Hey ___, I notice you are playing with your toys while your English teacher is talking, what’s up?
- Give them some time to tell you more about their experience. They might be hungry, tired, bored, confused, overwhelmed, thinking about something else- you won’t know until you ask them.
- Then, share your concern with them- I’m concerned that you are missing out on your teacher’s lessons. I want your brain to have every opportunity to learn this material and I’m worried you are missing out.
- Come to a mutually agreeable and reasonable solution – maybe you need to give your child some skills for how to engage with their teacher or you need to give them more to complete. Now is also the time to partner closely with your children’s teachers.
You may have noticed the word PODS or COHORTS being used in talking about options for the Fall of 2020.
- Pods or cohorts are groups of students who are in the same social grouping and who have small social exposure
- PODS are being used:
- for students who need supervision/child care
- To group students for social-emotional development
- To share child care and educational s support resources among groups of families
- To minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure to larger groups of children and families by minimizing exposure
- You can create in-person or remote POD support — parents and schools are making them
- There is an idea that PODS and private educational experiences and services create inequity within student’s experiences – there is great concern about what this school year will be like for students without extra resources which extend beyond the public system’s offerings
- PODS are being constructed quite differently among groups – both parents and schools are creating them.
- Who runs the pod can be determined by what your group’s needs are
- If your child will be with a teacher from school in live instruction, you may not need a tutor or a teacher during that time. You might just need a college student to watch the group
- If your child has asynchronous work (work that is given for them to complete at their own pace) they might need more instruction or organization- and in this case, a teacher or tutor may be helpful: Evolved Education Company offers 1-1 tutoring.
- Who runs the pod can be determined by what your group’s needs are
- For in-person protocols, Parents should be thinking about the safety protocols of everyone in the pod. CLICK HERE FOR A PDF OF OUR IDEAS FOR THESE PROTOCOLS. These should include regular COVID-19 testing, daily temperature checks and health checks of all members of the POD (including families), many safety protocols for the shared space including disinfecting protocols, sneeze guards, face masks, face shields, sterile bins for teacher/tutor/caretaker’s belongings, clean bathroom, no eating, protocols for if someone in POD gets sick or has COVID-19 exposure, no sharing of materials.
- The intense reality of pods is that you have to really trust the families you are bringing into the pods. How does your pod feel about grandparent visits or in-person grocery store shopping? What is an actionable plan if someone from the pod breaks the rules of the pod. We highly recommend writing out an actual contract.
- If you don’t want to be in person or cannot create in-person pods, then some families are creating remote pods– where groups of students get on Zoom and be together as they work through asynchronous work. Some groups of students are working with one tutor and having that tutor meet with each student or the group of students during that asynchronous work
No matter what your scenario- in person, hybrid, remote and/or pods or no pods- this school year will bring unique and unprecedented challenges to each student and family. Some closing ideas for ways to cope include:
A) Be nimble– be ready and able to move quickly and adapt and change course.
B) Practice lots of self-care- wear a face mask, handwash often, stay home when you are sick, sleep, exercise, take care of your mental health – you have to be okay for your kid to be okay
C) Communicate with your child’s teachers and caregivers and partner with support.
For more information about how Evolved Education Company can support you through 1-1 tutoring, parent education consulting, and/or school placement advisement, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our intake form CLICK HERE.