How to overcome barriers to in-person, virtual school

October 08, 2020 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Moms

This school year doesn’t look like any others before it. We’re in uncharted territory dealing with the pandemic.

Schools are grappling with new policies to prevent the spread of SARS-2-CoV, the virus that causes COVID-19, and parents are struggling with how to handle the school year.

Depending on your school’s policies and your family’s preferences, your child may be attending school virtually, in-person or a combination of the two.

Whatever the situation, schools, parents and kids all need to make adjustments. In order get through the school year, everyone will need to be adaptable.

Here are some solutions to barriers that may arise during virtual or in-person school this year:

Virtual learning

  1. Loss of connection to peers. Virtual school means less in-person interactions. This can be very difficult for kids. Find opportunities for your child to connect with other kids, either with socially distant playdates or texts/video calls.
  2. Lack of daily structure. Create a family schedule, including when e-learning will take place, as well as meals/snacks and breaks. It’s also very important to incorporate physical activity (“recess time”) into your child’s routine.
  3. Too many distractions. Try to set your child up in a quiet, designated workspace that’s free from noise and other distractions — this applies to you too, if you work from home. Set up a desk with their supplies so they have a regular place to do their work.
  4. Dealing with screen time issues. Sitting in front of a screen for hours isn’t healthy — especially kids who need to be active and social. Too much screen time leads to poor posture, obesity and poor vision. Make sure your child takes screen breaks throughout the day. Consider buying special glasses to protect the eyes or ergonomic seat cushions to help with posture.
  5. Loss of support services. If your child receives certain services, such as speech or occupational therapy, learning support or behavioral health services, ask your school how this support will continue during at-home learning. If your child participates in a school meal program, find out how meals will be available. Have contact information ready when technology issues arise.

In-person/hybrid learning

  1. Knowing when to keep your child home. Check in with your child each morning for signs of illness, such as a cough, runny nose, sore throat, diarrhea, headache, vomiting or body aches. If your child has a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher, they should not go to school. Keep your child home if he/she has had close contact with anyone infected with COVID-19.
  2. Staying safe at school. Review precautions your child should take at school, including wearing a mask, washing hands before and after eating, sneezing and coughing (along with proper hand washing techniques), keeping physical distance from other students, and not sharing items (e.g., pencils, water bottles) with other students.
  3. Dealing with the changes. Your child’s experiences at school will not be like last year. Your child and his/her teacher will likely be wearing masks. Students will likely be sitting farther apart in the classroom and won’t be able interact closely with each other like they did before. Reassure your child that this is temporary and find supportive resources to help them cope with stress.
  4. Transitioning home. Maintain a daily routine before and after school. Know what to pack in your child’s backpack (e.g., extra mask, water bottle, hand sanitizer). When your child returns home, make sure they wash their hands immediately.
  5. Coping with a COVID-19 case at school. Familiarize yourself with your school’s plan for what happens when a positive COVID-19 case is identified. Make sure your child’s school has your emergency contact information. Plan for a possible school closure, periods of quarantine or a return to virtual learning.

It will be especially important this school year to communicate (through email or phone) with your child’s teacher and attend (most likely virtual) school meetings so you can bring up any concerns and get your questions answered.

Regardless of whether your child will be attending school in-person or virtually, make sure he/she is up-to-date on recommended vaccines, including the flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that all school-aged children should get an influenza flu vaccine every season, with rare exceptions. It is especially important this year because we do not yet know if being sick with COVID-19 at the same time as the flu will result in more severe illness.

Flu vaccines are available through your child’s primary care physician. Contact your doctor’s office to schedule your flu shot. Find a doctor.

Schedule your child’s doctor appointment online or through the MyEEHealthTM mobile app.

We’re offering Video Visits for the care you need today, from the comfort of home. Learn more about Video Visits.

Learn more about our children’s services.

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