To Be Remote or to Not Be Remote

Pharmacy Times, September 2020, Volume 88, Issue 9

Should kids attend school in person or virtually? That is the burning question for many parents.

Millions of parents have been asking themselves this year whether to send their kids to school physically or have them learn at home remotely.

There is no right answer. Included below are some pointers, regardless of whether children will be attending school in person or virtually during this unique, to say the least, school year. It is important to ensure that children are part of the planning process, regardless, of what is decided to help ease their mental states.

It is equally important that pharmacists support patients, no matter what decisions they have made. Pharmacists must ensure that patients are ready to go for their academic year and help any families that need it.

For Children Attending in Person

Here are 4 things to think about to help prepare them for a safe and smooth school year:

• Mask. It is essential to ensure that a mask fits comfortably. Have the child practice wearing the mask prior to school starting. Have 2 to 3 masks per child, as they must be washed after school and may also be misplaced. Consider buying a mask holder (see photo) so that children can store their masks when they are not using them. Mask holders are also useful for parents who have multiple children, as they can be stored separately. The best mask holders can be easily disinfected or washed.

• Lunch. Will the child be eating lunch at school? Where do children put their masks while eating? What if they cannot open some of their food containers; who should they ask for help? Mentally preparing for these simple questions is critical.

• Mental health. Children and parents may feel apprehensive about going back to school. They may be afraid of getting sick or be worried about not touching anyone or anything. It is important to discuss these fears and work through them. Make appropriate recommendations as necessary.

• Transportation. How will the child get to school each day? Ensure that children are aware of the new bus rules or what is dif- ferent now that Daddy or Mommy is driving them. Ensure that they always feel safe and understand that there might be some changes to the schedule.

For Children Attending Remotely

Here are 4 things to consider:

• Classroom. Preparing a space, any space, in the home is very important. It does not have to be fancy, but it does need to be a place where the child can focus on schoolwork with minimal distractions. A desk with a trifold board to separate the child’s space if a family has multiple children is another great idea (see photo).

• Homework and meetings. Parents need to think about whether their children are prepared to attend school virtually. They also must think about whether they need to hire an assistant, babysitter, teacher, or tutor, and they should also consider a pod. Addressing how children will continue to progress academically and hiring help if needed are important.

• Mental health. Both children and parents may feel apprehensive and worried about remote learning. Parents may question if they made the right decision and if their children will regress academically or socially. They must address these issues and ensure that their children are still able to spend time with friends or siblings and get outside to experience some kind of “normal.”

• Playdates. What will playdates look like? Parents must think about whether they will allow their children to hang out with other kids who go back to school in person. Parents should have a plan as for what they will tell their children or other parents if this becomes an issue.