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School reopening: How parents should mentally prepare children


As schools across India are gradually reopening with the steady drop in Covid-19 cases, children are excited about resuming their physical classes and meeting their friends and teachers. After coping with months of isolation and stress of online schooling, children are looking forward to getting back to their offline classrooms and spending time with their friends.

While some parents have welcomed the move of schools opening again, others are apprehensive due to the unpredictability of the virus. Many schools are following hybrid model for a while with a mix of online and offline education.

As kids return to the classrooms, it is important to counsel them beforehand about the changed norms as they may not be able to share tiffin and indulge in fun conversations with their classmates considering they will not be sharing their seat with other children. Wearing masks and restriction in their movement can also spoil their mood.

Dr Gurudutt Bhat, Consultant-Paediatrician, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan shares tips on how parents can help their children in adapting to the new school environment.

Students pray in their classroom on the first day of reopening of schools, Pune (Hindustan Times)

Telling your children the importance of following social distancing norms: Socializing will not be the same even after the reopening of schools, at least for some time. “With all the social distancing norms in place, there will be lack of friendly banter between children which is crucial for one’s healthy school experience. Helping your children understand this new school environment will be helpful to avoid false expectations,” says Dr Bhat.

Helping them adjust with hybrid model: Parents should help children understand why things will only gradually normalise. “School for now may work in a hybrid model where some element of virtual function or assignments and submissions may continue to maintain minimal contact between students and teachers,” says Dr Bhat.

Build healthy habits: Help children understand the importance of maintaining hygiene during this situation. “Encourage them to keep themselves and others safe by washing their hands properly, wearing face masks, maintaining safe distance while talking to friends, etc,” says Dr Bhat.

Role of teachers in encouraging Covid-appropriate behaviour

“Teachers should administer safety practices including handwashing, respiratory etiquette (i.e. coughing and sneezing into the elbow), physical distancing measures, cleaning procedures for facilities and safe food preparation practices. Also, teachers should be trained on physical distancing and school hygiene practices. Moreover, teachers need to be more patient with kids and ensure their mental wellbeing from time to time,” says Dr Bhat.

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