UNICEF shares back-to-school tips for parents
As life continues in the COVID-19 pandemic era, the return to school, what that will look like and how well it will work is foremost in many parents' minds.
As directed by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, all state schools — including the Scappoose and St. Helens school districts — will open the 2020-21 school year with a continuation of the distance-learning model they used for the end of the 2019-20 school year.
When local schools transition to in-person learning will be determined by a number of statistical benchmarks that include: the COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 people over the preceding week must be less than 10 for Columbia County; the test positivity rate must be less than 5% over the preceding week for Columbia County; and the test positivity rate must be less than 5% over the preceding three weeks for Oregon.
Beyond that, Oregon schools — including the St. Helens and Scappoose school districts — are making almost all of the accommodations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and UNICEF.
Here's a part of what UNICEF suggests for the coming 2020-21 school year.
School reopenings should be consistent with each country's overall COVID-19 health response to protect students, staff, teachers and their families.
Some of the practical measures that schools can take include:
• Staggering the start and close of the school day
• Staggering mealtimes
• Moving classes to temporary spaces or outdoors
• Holding school in shifts, to reduce class size
Water and hygiene facilities will be a crucial part of schools reopening safely. Administrators should look at opportunities to improve hygiene measures, including handwashing, respiratory etiquette (i.e. coughing and sneezing into the elbow), physical distancing measures, cleaning procedures for facilities and safe food preparation practices. Administrative staff and teachers should also be trained on physical distancing and school hygiene practices.
Many children will need extra support to catch up on their learning when schools reopen.
Many schools are making plans for catch-up lessons to help bring students back up to speed. This might include starting the year with refresher or remedial courses, after-school programs or supplemental assignments to be done at home. Given the possibility that many schools may not open full-time or for all grades, schools may implement "blended learning" models, a mix of classroom instruction and remote education (self-study through take home exercises, radio, TV or online learning).
Give extra support to your child at home by creating a routine around school and schoolwork. This can help if they are feeling restless and having trouble focusing.
You may want to contact your child's teacher or school to ask questions and stay informed. Be sure to let them know if your child is facing specific challenges, like grief over a family loss or heightened anxiety due to the pandemic.
If your child is struggling to get back into "school mode," remember that your child will be dealing with the stress of the ongoing crisis differently from you. Create a supportive and nurturing environment and respond positively to questions and expressions of their feelings. Show support and let your child know that it's not only OK, but normal, to feel frustrated or anxious at times like this.
Help your children to stick to their routines and make learning playful by incorporating it into everyday activities such as cooking, family reading time or games. Another option could be joining a parent or community group to connect with other parents who are going through the same experience to share tips and get support.
UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to save children's lives, to defend their rights, and to help them fulfil their potential, from early childhood through adolescence.
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