To Go Back or Not to Go Back (to School)…That is the Question

“Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.”  ~ George Washington

Students, teachers, and parents have a million questions about the upcoming school year–

Will we go back to school or will it be virtual? Or a combination?

What happens if a student or teacher tests positive for coronavirus? Does the whole class quarantine? 

How are teachers and students supposed to understand one another through their masks? 

Who will clean and sanitize desks and classrooms after each day or class period?  

Who will watch students while they’re at home and parents are working?

For students (and parents alike), the thought of staying home one more minute sounds like torture. For teachers, going back to school conjures images of rushing around trying to keep masks on five (or 15) year-olds, while somehow ensuring they stay six feet apart…and understand one another while communicating with masks on. For parents, the thought of not going back creates so much stress due to childcare and/or homeschooling. It is an incredibly uncertain and stressful time for everyone!

Many feel helpless with the start of the school year around the corner and not knowing how to prepare when there is so much uncertainty about what this school year will look like. Your stress is valid; these are uncertain times.  Whether you are a student, parent or teacher, I want to suggest three things you can do to ease some of your uncertainty: Focus on the positive, create structure, and relieve stress.

Focus on the Positive.

Regardless of how things go down in the Fall, good things will come. I challenge each of us to see the positives. For instance, if school is online again this year, we could celebrate having more time together as a family. And if school is in-person, we can celebrate the fact that our kids can be around their friends again. Other ways to focus on the positive this school year are to do family projects, create movies of time together, take photos, learn something new, and most importantly make memories.  While dealing with COVID-19, during the school year, might be less than ideal, this is undeniably a singular time, and hopefully years from now we can look back and remember how we have been united as friends and families amidst the trials and challenges.

Create Structure.

Children and adults thrive when we have structure and predictability. Regardless of how school happens, it will be of the utmost importance that we establish a daily routine. While it may be tempting to sleep in and stay up late (especially with online schooling!), this is less than ideal for growing and developing bodies/brains.  Create a regular schedule during the week–including waking up, mealtimes, class time, study time, fun time, family time, etc.  Doing so will not only help us stay on task and be more productive, but it also will provide a sense of control, routine, and predictability. And when we feel like we have some control over our lives, we will handle other uncertainties with much more ease. 

Relieve Stress.

When we feel overwhelmed by the tasks at hand, we need to relieve some stress. There are many ways to do this: First and foremost, we need to remind ourselves not knowing what fall will look like is okay. Enjoy summer while it is here; we will have answers soon enough. Second, when we are in the thick of the stress during this school year–beit in the classroom or online–we must remember to take care of ourselves. We need to practice self-care and do things we love. And finally, we can relieve stress by tapping into available resources. Not only should we take advantage of the free online learning resources many companies are offering, but we can also utilize school resources. 

The 2020–2021 school year is uncertain, and that is okay. For now, we need to be okay with not having all the answers. We can face this uncertainty head on by looking for the positives, providing structure wherever we can, and by relieving the stress that will inevitably come. As we do these things, we will be better equipped to face whatever will happen in this upcoming school year. Please know that I am here for you and am still offering both in-person and telehealth therapy options to my clients. If you feel bogged down by stress and uncertainty, you are not alone! Do not hesitate to reach out today and schedule a session.

Melissa Cluff is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in North Texas, providing face-to-face and telehealth therapy options to clients in Texas.


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Melissa Cluff, MS, LMFT, CSAT

Melissa Cluff is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in North Texas, providing face-to-face and telehealth therapy options to clients in Texas.