Back to school jitters reside with parents as we approach the dilemma of school reopenings

Many of us have a love and hate relationship with the 1st day pictures that we see online of kids of all ages returning to their respective places of learning in the Fall. It seems that it is a rite of passage that after all of the digging through bins at Target we can finally feel a sigh of relief knowing that we got all of the things that the teacher’s- to- buy list asked us to. In some homes in America we watch our kids get on the bus and say a quick prayer that they will make a friend or in some cases we hope that they will be the kid that gets recognized for their hard work even on the first day…we don’t fear that they will not be recognized because of the mask that covers half of their face keeping them safe from a deadly virus.

Our children are in a unique position this year and many parents have fears that cause great anxiety. The question of school safety is not a new one but somehow this new and improved way of looking at school safety is even more intense than how it is typically viewed.

As a mental health professional I ask parents to weigh pros and cons in most situations where they have to make difficult decisions. This usually helps with clarity and confidence when selecting the right choice. In this school reopening conversation it can be hard to do this exercise with assurance as there are so many unknowns and what we do not know can kill our children. In this situation of school re-opening knowledge is power but lack of knowledge is disempowering. Common concerns about social distancing, mask wearing, mental health under the new classroom set up are only a few of the topics that parents are trying to navigate but on top of the obvious are those uncontrollable but possible circumstances of the “what ifs”.

Every parent has played a game of the “what ifs” a time or two thousand but in this case our children’s lives and well being rests on the outcome. The option of virtual school becomes more attractive as we play rounds and rounds of the “what ifs” but please keep in mind that this option has many challenges as well and navigating structure, social engagement and supervision can tie into the choice to decide on a virtual option.

Let’s face it…school has changed since the pandemic and it won’t look the same as it once did. Accepting the fact that we need to learn how to grieve the former way of doing things is hard but if we do not let go of yesterday’s education setting and set up in a pre-pandemic world it will be even harder to teach our kids to mourn and eventually heal as they embark on a new way of interaction in learning.

Some ideas:

  1. Create a support circle of parents, friends, community members that you can talk to when you are in need of emotional support.

The best option may not be clear and although you may be trying to navigate between hybrid, virtual, home-school or in-person the healthiest reminder is that education will happen this Fall in some form and in fact it is happening right now as you decipher what your own plan looks like.



I believe that we never get tired of story time. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, author, mom, wife, Registered yoga teacher & I snort when I laugh.

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Tara Michener

I believe that we never get tired of story time. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, author, mom, wife, Registered yoga teacher & I snort when I laugh.