The past few weeks have contributed to one of the more strained school holiday periods we have ever seen. Even though we are free and out of lockdown, conditions have been more concerning than ever. So, what happens when our kids face a return to school that no one feels ready for? Let’s run through a few things you can do to get them (and you) prepared for a safe return.
Talk About Rapid Antigen Testing
In recent news, it was released that the NSW government would be using RAT (Rapid Antigen Testing) to monitor the health of students returning to school. The program is said to currently be four weeks long, consisting of at-home testing twice a week for all students and teachers. According to new information released, the plan will provide schools with enough tests for all students to last the full four weeks. Schools will be in touch with parents over the next week to arrange the collection of the first two weeks of testing kids for each student.
Very little information has been released about the plan so far, however it is said that families will be able to decide which days of the week they conduct the tests with their children at home, and there will be no requirements to log test results online at this stage.
Your child might be concerned about this process or scared if they have had a rough experience with a PCR test. Be sure to talk to them in advance about doing the testing at home and reassure them that it will be something you can do together that won’t be as scary as it sounds.
Prepare Those Backpacks
In addition to the usual list of stationery items you need to source, attending school in this day and age requires a series of additional personal safety items that you might like to pack in your child’s bag. Some of the items in the list below might not be necessary depending on your child age or school environment, but here are a few items I like to keep close by:
– Small packet of antibacterial wipes for hands and surfaces
– Small personal hand sanitiser
– Face mask, plus a spare in case one gets lost. Masks are the new school hats!
– Small packet of tissues to keep any sneezes contained.
Those are on top of the usual, 30 pencils and 1700 rubbers, of course.
Make Additional Health Precautions Fun
Teaching kids the importance of personal hygiene can be hard at the best of times, but it’s made even worse when everything feels so clinical and gloomy, thanks to masks and endless sanitising. I like to personalise my children’s health supplies with fragranced sanitiser and mask designs that suit their personality and style. If your kids might benefit from being in control, let them help pick their own supplies. You might like to turn the last week of holidays into a family project; making your own masks or mask covers. Be sure to try out any new supplies before school begins to make sure that your child doesn’t have a skin reaction to liquids or a sensory response to mask materials/textures.
Masks will be required to be worn by all teachers and secondary school students from day one.
When it comes to our kids, none of us can say what the best decision is for the health and safety of someone else’s child. I’m not going to give anyone a hard time on their parenting decisions here, but for those of you seeking vaccinations for your children before school starts, this one is for you.
More and more, I am seeing cancelled appointments become available, often within 24 hours of when I am looking. You might be exhausted at the thought of it, unable to find an appointment before mid-February, and certainly not in a convenient location. All I want to tell you is to keep trying. They are out there, and so many people double book their appointments to cover bases that more are freeing up all the time.
Understand the Current Restrictions and Guidelines for the Illawarra
To say that the rules and guidelines change frequently is an understatement. At times, changes can be made daily without even broadcasting what they are. As school approaches, keep up to date on what is recommended within the Illawarra by clicking here. You can also keep track of changes to NSW education guidelines here.
Talk About Their Concerns
Like me, you might be trying to block out the overload of COVID-obsessed information; it seems you can’t look at your phone or have a friendly conversation in the street without the topic dominating the discussion. As school approaches, make time to bring up the subject with your kids and encourage them to ask any questions they might have. I recently did this with my two and was surprised at some of the asked questions.
Adjust Your Routine
You won’t be alone if you have fallen into the summer holiday time warp where bedtime is much later than usual, and a sleep-in is encouraged. It’s time to get those bodies back on school time with a good wake-up routine and consistent bedtime in the week before school. That way, you’ll keep any difficulties adjusting away from the actual school transition next week. It’s also a good idea to rewind any relaxed screen-time rules you would typically have in place. You might like to go to a timed approach with a certain allotment per day or maybe a reward system where that time is earned. Whatever your strategy is during the school term, get started now.
Give Yourself a Break
Despite what we tell ourselves as parents, everything doesn’t need to be perfect on day one. Getting ahead as much as possible can definitely help, but if something slips through and isn’t ready on the day, everything will be ok. The world won’t end if every pencil isn’t labelled. You wouldn’t be ‘a bad‘ Mum (or Dad) if you didn’t get the correct lunch box in time. Just as these are unprecedented times for our kids, they are for us too. With stock shortages and shopping madness, we are under more pressure than ever. Taking care of your mental health is number one. As they say on the aeroplane — oh how I miss you — you must fit your own oxygen mask before you help anyone else.
I hope your next week is a smooth ride as we all navigate this increasingly difficult thing called, pandemic schooling. Remember, love is all they really need, everything else is just a bonus. Enjoy those last-minute hugs before school starts and to those of you (children and parents) starting Kindy or High School next week, you’ve got this.
CLICK HERE for More Tips on Returning to School from 2021.
CLICK HERE for Helpful Tips for Primary School Students Returning to School c/o the NSW Govt’s Education website.