Back to school is only weeks away. While we may not have a detailed roadmap on what that will look like, we do know that there will be some changes, and it’s time to adapt.
Adaptation is a survival instinct which makes you a natural --- you can do this!
Adaptation 1: Mask wearing.
You and your student will likely have a choice to return to a form of modified face to face instruction. If you choose to send your student to school, then it is likely that your student will need to wear a mask.
You can demonstrate to your student now how to put on and take off a mask properly and what to do if you touch your mask. The most effective method of cleansing a fabric mask is soap and water.
Please consider modeling good mask wearing practices yourself when out in public to reinforce them to your student. The World Health Organization (WHO) has free short videos and helpful infographics at who.int/epi-win.
Adaptation 2: Hand washing.
Proper handwashing is your superpower! When it comes to external surfaces like our skin (FYI: your skin is the largest organ of your body), soap and water can indeed do it all in the fight to combat the spread of germs.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention offers a suite of excellent tools for parents and teachers to teach, promote and reward proper handwashing technique (cdc.gov/handwashing).
Adaptation 3: Emphasizing the kind in humankind.
In our current context a renewed importance on helping others is likely to be a part of your student’s success in school this fall. Acknowledging and tending to the emotional component of living through, not just surviving, an international crisis is as important as addressing the biological components.
You can do this by starting with you. So, friend, be kind to yourself; your community is here for you and your child. Check out these five helpful tips on practicing empathy during COVID-19 from Arizona’s Neighborhood Outreach Access to Healthcare, NOAH (noahhelps.org).
Adaptation 4: Astute observing.
Why? Because viruses do not. Viruses need us to live, regardless of what ZIP code you live in, who you vote for or whether your children go to public, private or charter schools. Those are all man-made distinctions and have no meaning in combating a virus.
Preparing your student to be an astute observer will allow her/him to discern between natural and man-made, fact and fiction, issue and non-issue. Doing so will allow your student to focus on school when at school and avoid getting caught up in confusing conversations that yield little towards his/her scholarship.
As someone who likely did not grow up with a smartphone in your back pocket, you may be inclined to take a pass on this one.
Before you do, consider how much social media has blurred the rubric by which we distinguish between authentic and inauthentic information.
As a parent, you want the best for your student.
Starting now to prepare yourself and your student for the adventure that awaits us this fall will go a long way to getting the best educational experience for your student. Remember, you are not alone and together we will adapt.
Editor’s Note: Libby Hart-Wells, Ph.D. is adjunct faculty at Glendale Community College department of chemistry, parent of two SUSD students and is a candidate for Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board in the Nov. 3 election. Leslee Friedman Kelly, M.D., is a pediatrician with Pediatric Associates in Phoenix and parent of three SUSD former and current students.