Talking to your kids about returning to school during a pandemic


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Preparing your children for school this year amid a pandemic might take more than just buying pencils and a backpack. It can also include helping them understand changes at school and why changes have happened.

Five months ago children left their schools unexpectedly, and now they have to head back in just a few weeks. But there is so much that looks and feels different.

“I don’t care if I have to wear a mask, I don’t care if I have to have walls in between me, I just want friends,” first-grader Jaely Cassezza said.

So, how do you prepare your children for their return to the classroom? Well, it all starts with a conversation.

“Let them know about some of the changes that are coming out. A lot of the schools right now are sending out letters and updates and notices to parents and just to be able to be very transparent with our kids about some of the information and some of the decisions that their schools have made,” Mahlia Holbeck, Avera manager of Behavioral Health, said.

And those are conversations that can continue throughout the school year.

“I think it’s good practice on, you know, every night when you’re with your child just to be able to check-in with them and see how the day’s gone and what is it like now going back to school with some of these changes that have been taking place. It just really provides them an opportunity to just be able to talk about what’s different and to be able to talk about how that’s impacting them and some of the emotions that they’re experiencing surrounding that,” Holbeck said.

Mandy Cassezza says she’s already been having those discussions with her daughter Jaely, who will be starting first grade this year.

“Just about anything with her, I try to just give her as much information as appropriate so she knows what’s going on. So she’s aware of what’s taking place and some of the changes that are involved for that,” Cassezza said.

Holbeck says to also be on the look out for any behavioral changes in your children as they begin to navigate going to school during a pandemic.

“So different things that you might see going on with your child is maybe they get a little bit more withdrawn, maybe start to see that they start to have some behavioral issues, start acting out a little bit, maybe their peer groups start to change, maybe their grades start to change a little bit too. Those are all opportunities just to really sit down with your child and be able to ask them about what’s going on,” Holbeck said.

Some schools might require a mask when in the classroom. Holbeck says you should have a conversation about why with your kids.

Parents might even decided to not send their students back to school and rely on home schooling or remote learning.

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