What to Know About Back to School on the Suncoast
We know you read the title and cringed a little. It seems like just yesterday, the summer began here on the Suncoast, and here we are gearing up to go back to school. After the pandemic caused so many changes to virtual versus in-classroom education, masks, social distancing, and the like, many are worried about what this year might look like in our schools. But, the good news, things are getting back to a bit of normal, and here’s what you need to know about getting back to school here on the Suncoast.
Schools Back In Session
For the counties here on the Suncoast, students return to the session on August 10, 2021. Although schools intend to be fully back in person, masks are optional in most schools, with none currently enforcing this rule in the new year. There have been many meetings, school board, and community conversations around vaccinations as some students remain too young to receive them, and others have not for various reasons. That being said, while students will be allowed to wear maks for their reasons, it appears all districts have agreed on a voluntary mandate in this regard for the new school year at this time. Of course, as new information from the CDC and the district itself as schools resume become available, there could be causes for changes in these rules to help with the safety of students.
Closer attention to hand washing and sanitizing is foremost in everyone’s minds. Additionally, each district will communicate diagnostic testing and other necessary screenings to help keep the students safe. In addition, your school will put forth any individual plans for outbreaks, contact notification of COVID, and the like. However, the good news is that children should be getting back to a normal school routine this fall.
Getting Prepared for Return To School
As this may be the first time for some students being in a school setting after a long pandemic quarantine or maybe ever, here are a few ideas to help with the transition:
- Read any handouts sent to you via email or other communication. Then, please share the information with the children to give them the best preparation for what to expect when they cross back into those hallways this fall.
- Create some excitement about the little things like school shopping, first-day outfits, and the like. They will feed off your excitement, anxiety, or concerns, so be the best cheerleader to them for the coming year.
- Ensure they have the supplies needed for success. If you can add a few extra items to donate to your classroom for other kids, that is wonderful. In reverse, if you need some help affording supplies, many organizations can help, and you should reach out to your school for possible options early on. Ensuring everyone has the tools for the best educational experience is critical and the focus of so many educators, volunteers, and organizations.
- Attend an Open House. Especially for children who are new to a school, haven’t been in the classroom for a year, or just want to get ready for that first day, this can be a great thing to do to set the tone for a return to school this fall.
- Start setting a routine early. Summer is full of spontaneous days, and many children have a much freer routine than when school gets back in session. Starting at least a week before school to start rising, breakfast, and dressing on a routine will help ease the transition and get them ready for the start of the school year. Additionally, nighttime and sleep routines to ensure they rise rested is another great process to start before that first critical week of school.
- Review schedules, backpack placement, and lunch with everyone before that first hectic morning. Children thrive on routine, and knowing what to expect, so helping establish morning and evening routines, homework rules, lunchtime, and anything else ahead of time can ease this stressful time for many students.
- Talk with children about any concerns, worries, and the like. Open communication and addressing concerns early will help set them up for success and ensure that any supports needed for the best school year possible are in place.
- First-day excitement. Set out outfits, give them a pep talk, and ensure they are fully prepared for that first amazing day back in school.
Many take back to school for granted as students will do it twelve to twenty times in their lifetime. This year though, a little extra care for the new routines, health information, and those that have been home virtually learning might be necessary. So regularly communicate with children, and know your resources to ensure we all help equip Suncoast’s students for the best year yet as we attempt to navigate back to a new normal for all.
Photos by Deposit Photos