Early Childhood News

Transitioning Back to School in a Pandemic

Here in Jeffco, schools will
start with remote learning and slowly transition students back into the classroom. It’s been a long six months for all of us — but we may still have mixed feelings about sending our children back to school.

Some families will decide not to send children to school at all this year and do the entire year via remote learning. Other families are more than ready to get back to some form of in-person learning, even if it comes with limitations.

This has also been a difficult time for children’s mental health. Just as we all have physical health and do things to stay physically healthy, we all have mental health. And there are important things we can do for ourselves and our children to stay mentally healthy during this transition.

School will be very different this year with desks farther apart, teachers and students in masks, physical distance, limited mixing of students, and staying in the classroom for lunch. For children who have been to school before, it will be unlike any school year they have experienced. 

As school starts, talk to your child and explain how all these steps are being taken to keep everyone safe and healthy. The list below provides information and tips related to children’s mental health as they transition back to school. The resources are from the CDC, part of their Stress and Coping During the COVID-19 Pandemic publications. 

  • Talk with your child about how school will look and feel different.
  • Once school starts, talk with your child about how school is going and about interactions with classmates and teachers. Ask how your child is feeling and communicate that what they may be feeling is normal.
  • Expect behavior changes in your child. Watch for changes like excessive crying or irritation, excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, difficulty concentrating. These may be signs of your child struggling with stress and anxiety.
  • Try to attend school activities and meetings, even if they are virtual. As a parent, staying informed and connected may reduce your feelings of anxiety and provide a way for you to express any concerns you may have about your child’s school.
  • Check if your school has any systems in place to identify and provide mental health services to students in need of support. If so, identify a point of contact for these services at your school.
  • Check if your school has a plan to help students adjust to being back in school. Students might need help adjusting to how COVID-19 has disrupted their daily life. Support may include school counseling and psychological services, social-emotional learning (SEL)-focused programs, and peer/social support groups.
  • Check if your school will provide training for students in mindfulness, incorporating SEL into classroom curriculum, or support a child’s ability to cope with stress and anxiety. If not, consider asking about ways to add this to your child’s at-home learning.
  • You can be a role model for your child by practicing self-care:
    • Take breaks
    • Get plenty of sleep
    • Exercise
    • Eat well
    • Stay socially connected

We all need support from the community to raise happy, healthy children — now more than ever. If you are struggling and need support, there are community resources in Jeffco designed to help parents and children thrive. 

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