The 2020-21 school year started off with anticipation, excitement, uncertainty, and apprehension.  Those feelings and more have continued throughout the first few months of school.  Students have adjusted to the new “normal” of the school year.  In addition, many students have experienced times of quarantine either for themselves or for the entire school.  As we continue the school year with further prospects of possible quarantines, the following information can guide you in helping your student academically, socially, and emotionally in times of quarantine and re-entry to school.

Helping students on quarantine

Keep a structure and a routine 
Students of all ages are more productive when they maintain a daily schedule.  Help students design and follow a regular routine which may include waking up at a scheduled time each morning, getting dressed as if it were a regular school day, structuring academic time, building in physical breaks (getting outside if possible), and going to sleep at a regular time.

Organize physical and mental space 
Delegate a space specifically for school work.  Organize the space with necessary materials and limit distractions.  Keep a calendar with daily and weekly tasks, assignments, and goals.  Make a to-do list and cross items off as they are completed.  Break work into manageable chunks.  Only focus on what tasks need to be completed that day or week. 

Continue to cultivate relationships
Maintaining relationships continues to be an important aspect of mental health even during quarantine.  Take advantage of virtual meetings with classmates for academic and social interactions.  Find time to talk with friends and family.  Phone calls and face time are better than text.  Find time to participate in fun activities with those who live in the home. 

Show compassion to self and other
Nourish the body, mind, and soul.  Keep healthy eating, sleeping, and exercise habits.  Spend time outside.  Keep humor in the home.  Try to laugh every day.  Schedule time for a mindfulness routine for the entire family.  Five to ten minutes of mindfulness practice each day is shown to have significant effects on mental wellness.

Helping students prepare for re-entry to school

Discuss what to expect when returning to school
Prepare students as to expectations such as new rules and social expectations as they return to school.  Discuss any changes to expect and how to approach such changes. 

Listen, validate, and calm concerns and fears
Students will have a myriad of feelings regarding returning to school.  Listen to understand those feelings and respond in a calming manner.  Discuss concerns and how the school is implementing procedures to keep them safe and healthy.

Discuss social expectations
Help students understand what is appropriate in social situations.  Outline mask wearing, distancing, and other procedures the student should expect.  Talk with student about how they can safely continue to socially interact with friends.

Manage your own anxiety:
Students will look to parents for examples of how they should be feeling with returning to school as well as how they should behave.  Stay calm, show empathy, and model appropriate actions that keep everyone safe such as mask wearing in public places.

References:
Mazzella, R. (2020, August 11). GUIDE: Transitioning Back to School After Quarantine. Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://www.carolinaparent.com/guide-transitioning-back-to-school-after-quarantine/

Millner, U. C. (2020). Five Tips for Students During the Coronavirus Self-Quarantine. Retrieved November 13, 2020, from https://lesley.edu/article/five-tips-for-students-during-the-coronavirus-self-quarantine

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