The Question of the Day is: Should my child return to school virtually, or live?
What’s Best For Your Family?
I don’t have the answer to that question! I think the answer is going to be individual, based on your family—your child and their needs, and their medical needs, whether you have extended family in your home, or whatever your personal situation is. This is a personal decision, and I hope you’re not having to defend that decision to anyone because whatever decision you make is what is best for your family.
Be Prepared For Change
And if you get 4 weeks into the school year and decide to change because it’s not working out as well as you thought—that’s fine too! We can’t always look ahead and tell what something will be like in the end. From what I understand, the school districts are not even 100% sure about what this is going to look like, and whether the decisions that are being made right now will stick or will have to change later. If we have an outbreak that goes above 15%, or if teachers or classrooms start getting sick, changes will have to be made.
Yesterday I heard about a resource that was on NBC: the pediatricians and doctors at UT Southwestern got together and came up with a set of recommendations for parents for in-school or in-home types of learning. We have a link for that below this blog, so please check it out! You can also always go to the NBC DFW website and search on “should my child go to school” and it should bring the resource right up.
If there are health considerations in your household, those need to be considered. We are very aware that our kids can be asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19. They can seem perfectly fine without any symptoms, but they can still infect other people. We know this for certain. The virus can be all around you, and you might not have any idea or warning. And not just kids! Although kids seem to be the most frequent asymptomatic carriers, we have done testing that shows that adults can have the virus and feel perfectly fine as well. You just don’t know who around you might be carrying and transmitting the virus.
Whatever decisions you make, just like any other school year, please start preparing your kiddos ahead of time. For most of the people in our area, schools will be online for at least the first 3 or 4 weeks, and then they may switch to in-person school. If your child is going to go to school in person this year, start early with your preparations. If your child has not been wearing a mask, you will need to do mask training with them. We do this here at the center, too. You will also want to review hand-washing, reminding them that hand-washing is not 5 seconds, it’s 25 seconds. This is a perfect time to teach them to sing the song while washing or whatever works for you and your child. Most of our kids are pretty good with hand sanitizer, but we want to make sure they wash their hands well and use the sanitizer appropriately.
Getting Ready For The Day
Even if they’re doing school online, whether synchronous or asynchronous, they will still have to get up in the mornings. It’s time to start working with getting back onto the school sleep and wake schedules (if you haven’t already), and start figuring out this new normal.
We Are Here For You
I want you to know that we’re going to be here for you. We are going to continue to be open. We are going to continue to do therapy. We can help you with this process. Whether it’s a screen time issue or any other problems with getting back into a schedule and adjusting, we are here to help you and support you through that process.
We have several families who are switching to homeschooling, so they’re coming in for therapy in the earlier hours, and using us as their PE class. This is another option that might work for you, and we can help you through this process as well.
I don’t know what school is going to look like for our parents and kiddos who have IEPs in place, that are in special education. I recommend reaching out and maybe calling a virtual ARD meeting so that you have a better idea of what that process is going to look like for your kiddos. Many of our kiddos with intellectual disabilities require very hands-on intervention, and they really aren’t candidates for 6 hours a day of virtual school. This is the kind of thing you’re going to want to reach out to your school ASAP about.
Best of luck to you all, and we hope the year goes well!
Here’s the website with the decision-making guide from the doctors at Children’sHealth Medical Center and UTSouthwestern: COVID-19 Back to School Guidance