Back To School

Coronavirus: The School Dilemma

By: Stephen Jones, MD

A common question I have received in many of my well care visits this summer is, “Should I send my child back to school during the coronavirus pandemic?”. And, as a parent, how could you not be a bit confused? Some private schools are planning to open. Greenville County has not finalized a plan just yet for public education.

Some preschools and daycares will be forced to keep their doors closed, while others have never shut down to begin with. Some families will choose to have a full time tutor in their home. And, many care takers, will feel extremely limited in their options due to financial, professional, and personal factors outside of their control.

So Where is the Magic Bullet? What is the Safest Option for Your Child?

Unfortunately, as much as I would love to say that our practice has all the answers, we do not know the perfect “back to school” plan for your child.

Everyone’s situation is different and there are MANY factors to consider when making this decision for your family. We do however have some humble recommendations on what you and your family can do to prepare for the upcoming unique Fall semester that is fast approaching.

Parkside’s Recommendations to Help Your Child Prepare for School During a Pandemic…
  •  Practice wearing cloth face masks as much as you can. Here is a previous post with helpful tips for children over the age of 2 who may not be too excited about this venture.
  •  Wait and educate yourself about your child’s specific school’s game plan before you make any concrete decisions for your family. You may be pleasantly surprised about all the options your child’s school is offering to help families navigate this unprecedented time.
  •  Change the (your) narrativeThis is a tough one but quite possibly the most important. Try and change your verbiage and overall tone about the upcoming school year—specifically when discussing the topic around your child. Please don’t hear what I’m not saying. We do not want you to have to suppress your, and/or your child’s, authentic feelings and everyone should allow themselves time to grieve all of the changes that the coronavirus has brought on our society and will continue to bring in the coming months. But, what if you practiced once a day talking about a silver lining with your child? What if you simply changed the words of “Have to” to “Get to” when informing your child of what’s to come in their Fall semester? You might just find a positive change in your outlook as well.
  •  Be slow to judge and quick to show empathy. It is very easy during this time to project your own feelings or desires onto other caretakers and their children. Remind yourself that you do not know a family’s specific mental, physical, and/or financial situation. There all types of instances where a child should be kept at home for virtual learning during this time, and plenty more where they should try and be in some type of face-to-face learning environment despite the overarching risks involved.
  • Show grace. To yourself, to your child, and especially to the faculty and to the administration of your child’s school. These are strange times we are living in and everyone will need to adjust and re-adjust as the fall and winter months bring new challenges and hopefully new treatments.

Please know your Parkside family is here for you when you need us. Don’t be afraid to reach out to us regarding this topic by phone, in a virtual visit, or during your child’s next well check. There are no silly questions when it comes to your peace of mind and your child’s well-being.

Until next time,

Dr. Stephen Jones

Parkside Provider, father of three, and aspiring chicken farmer

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