The Education Equation: Preparing children for the return to school

Rebuilding MS

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Mississippi schools will be filled with children again in August amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Some children will be entering school for the first time, while others will be rejoining familiar classmates that they haven’t seen since schools closed in March.

Dr. Anita Henderson, president-elect of the Mississippi American Academy of Pediatrics, said many youngsters may show some anxiety.

“They are a little unsure of what is going on. The best thing parents can do will be obviously to talk to their children and mainly listen,” Henderson explained.

She said parents should ask open-ended questions and see what information their children know and fill in the gaps.

“I would encourage parents to start getting the children to practice wearing masks. There are a lot of different masks out there right now, some are more comfortable than others. So I would encourage parents to try out some different masks, explain to their children that these will help protect them and protect the children around them. So the more they practice right now, the better they are going to be when school starts.”

Here are some guidelines for mask wearing, courtesy of the UAB Medical Center:

  • Children under the age of two years should not wear cloth face coverings
  • Mask should fit the child snugly, particularly around the nose and mouth and should cover the chin
  • Masks with two ties do not require elastic and tend to cause less discomfort
  • Pick a fabric that is kid-friendly, like a favorite cartoon character, sports team or color.

Parents should also remember their children are watching them.

“Children learn by watching their parents and their grandparents. They listen, they hear what they are saying. So if you are complaining about a mask and complaining about wearing a mask into the grocery store, your children are hearing that. So we would encourage our parents to understand the reasons for masking, hand washing and to explain that to our children, so when school does start we are going to be more successful,” said Henderson.

Schools districts have been planning all summer to get back to school. Mississippi has recently seen a significant surge in COVID-19 cases. Henderson said parents need to realize everything could change.

“One thing that schools and parents need to plan for is that if schools go in person right now, plan for the fact that they may go virtual later. So I think parents need to have a plan for ‘if’ distance learning comes back in terms of childcare, in terms of home teaching.”

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