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Prepare for transition

As tough as this pandemic has been on the young people, parents and teachers of our community, many of them are about to enter a new reality.

On Monday, many children in Suffolk Public Schools will return to in-person classes two days a week. Some children are staying in virtual learning, and that will present a new challenge for teachers to deal with. And then there are the parents who may be unsure about their decision, whether that decision was to send their child to school two days a week or keep them in virtual learning.

As they have young minds and less life experience, the children are likely to need the most support from the adults around them. Here are some tips from UNICEF that you can still implement even if you’re not seeing this until Sunday afternoon.

  • Have an open conversation with your child about what’s worrying them and let them know it’s completely normal to feel anxious.
  • Talk to them calmly about some of the changes they may expect at school, such as needing to wear masks and keep a distance from their friends and teachers. Prepare them for the possibility that some of their friends may not be there and everything may seem different.
  • Remind your children about the important role they can play in keeping themselves healthy, such as washing their hands with soap and water.
  • Remind children about the positives — they will be able to see their friends and teachers and continue learning new things.
  • Show children how to cover a cough or sneeze with their elbow and ask them to tell you if they feel like they have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing.
  • Go through the morning routine and talk about different things, like the wellness questions you will be asking them recommended by the school division.

UNICEF also says to look out for the following to gauge if your child needs extra support: sadness, worry, anger, agitation, fatigue, confusion, lack of interest in playing with other children or completing their homework, not sleeping or eating well, loss of interest in their hobbies or friends. If they do need support, don’t be afraid to partner with the school counselor, teachers or other education professionals.

This will be a difficult transition for everyone, but it can be a positive one if everyone goes in prepared. That includes even our youngest citizens.