Back to School 2020: Sending Kids to School During Pandemic for 2020 – 2021 School Year.
Every single parent is struggling with so many tough decisions during this pandemic situation we’re all facing.
One of the toughest decisions? What to do about school this year!
When everything started happening in March I think most of us tried to embrace the time with our kids, enjoy that quality time together, and try not to worry about the future. Surely by fall things will be normal! Enjoy the NOW.
Well. The future is now the present and life isn’t anything close to normal yet and we’re all having to decide the best path for our kids this academic year.
Making the Pandemic School Decision
Every situation is unique. Every family has different things to consider. Every school system has different elements at play to sort through.
No two families are facing the exact same decisions when it comes to back to school.
Our options were: homeschool, send the kids back to the classroom with safety measures in place and knowing it may very likely transition back into virtual learning or doing the school system’s remote learning from the start of the year.
My personal opinion? Can I choose option D) None of the Above?
For our family, none of those options are ideal, or is even something I feel is truly the best option for our children.
I am blessed that I have options and am in a situation where I can choose the path for our children. I know so many parents simply don’t have a choice. In a two-parent working household, parents have to be concerned about child care on top of navigating all of the school options.
Homeschooling has many advantages but my kids are SICK of each other after being home for so long. They are eager to get back to their school routines and back to their friends. Online just can’t replace in person. It can’t!
They WANT to go back. They don’t care that they will have to wear masks all day, they don’t care that so many elements of their “normal” school life will be different, they just want to BE there full time for in person learning.
And I understand that! I also support it. Mental health is important. It matters.
I have seen ways that my own mental health has taken a toll during the pandemic. We have all heard about the public health concerns regarding the impact on mental health during this health crisis. Our kids are being affected too in all of this and as their mom, I want to do my best to meet their physical AND emotional needs.
My biggest concern for reopening schools? Digital Learning. We were very fortunate when the school district was canceled last year that our system did NOT make it mandatory. My kids did all of the assignments and did Google Meets with their teachers even though it wasn’t required but it was also a very, very frustrating situation.
I cannot fathom my children trying to learn NEW material in that setting.
So while I’m all about letting the kids go back into the classroom. All about them getting to have the school experience, even though it’s not the normal one. All about them getting their hearts filled with seeing their friends and participating in clubs and activities.
I’m also terrified. Not of the virus, for our family personally we’re not concerned with contracting COVID or our ability to fight it if we were to contract it. We are blessed to not have anyone in our close circle of family members be at a higher risk and feel comfortable taking the risks associated with sending children into the classroom.
We understand and recognize that the more exposure our family has, the more at risk we become to contracting the virus. I am not saying that the way we feel is how other families should feel or that the decisions we’ve made are ones that every family should make. It is a personal choice and we have chosen to try our best to safely return to as many normalcies as we can.
My biggest fear is that my kids will get a TASTE of the joy that school brings and then BAM it all come crashing down and they are forced into virtual learning set up that would be beyond stressful and miserable for all of our kids as well as their mama!
I pray the open schools are able to stay open. That the safety measures in place WORK to keep everyone healthy. And that we have an AWESOME school year!
I know families who have opted to homeschool for the 2020 – 2021 school year. I know families who have opted to go virtual for the full year. I know families who have opted to go to remote learning for part of the year. I respect every single decision every family has had to make in this time where there is truly NO IDEAL OPTION.
We gotta do what’s best for OUR crew. And for ours? It’s in-person instruction! For as long as they are open, we’ll be there and we’ll be thankful to be there and thankful for the staff for being there and thankful for the administration for navigating all of this the very best they can!
We will find joy. We will cling to hope. We will pray for health and safety and the ability to continue to be at school. And we will forever appreciate each school day in a totally new way 😉
Sending Kids to School During Pandemic
Making the decision to send the kids to school is one big step.
But the next? Preparing to send kids to school during a pandemic!
There are SO many new things to be considering. School supply shopping looks a LOT different this year, that’s for sure!
Obviously we’re all first-timers when it comes to the living during a world pandemic. None of us have experienced this. There is no one to ask for advice or wisdom because no one has lived it before!
We’re all figuring it out as we go (which is why we gotta have SO much patience and grace with each other through it).
So I’m not saying I’m some school-pandemic pro here. I just know our kids are going back earlier than lots of other school systems (even locally) so therefore I’ve had to be considering these things earlier than many other mamas have had to consider them.
I also am a big over-thinker, over-analyzer, and over-planner so you KNOW I’m trying my best to think through all the little details and how to best equip my children for success!
Back to School 2020 – It’s All About Perspective
THE best way I can prepare my kids to go into school this year? Is to help them have a positive outlook and perspective.
It helps that they want to be there. I have used their excitement to help them better accept and understand that it’s going to be different than the school life they are accustomed to. However, different doesn’t mean less awesome!
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve all faced many disappointments. A positive of this time has been for our children to learn to cope when things don’t go their way. When plans change. When things they’ve been looking forward to can no longer happen.
Life doesn’t go according to plan. And Covid Life is a life VERY filled with unpredictability.
In talking about back to school I want to be realistic with my kids and I also want them to have realistic expectations.
I’ve reminded them that there is a good chance school could close again. That the safety measures in place aren’t just to help keep everyone healthy – but to help keep the school open too!
If they want to be able to be at school, they also have to just go with the flow on these new rules and guidelines too. Masks are mandatory all day for all of my kids who are entering public school (my two-year-old attends a private preschool and they aren’t requiring masks for students) so the kids know going back to school also means they have to wear a mask.
And they are okay with that! They “get it” and understand that complaining about the mask isn’t going to change the rule that they have to wear it. A positive attitude helps SO MUCH in these trying times! Embrace the mask. Embrace social distancing. Embrace the new guidelines and safety measures.
The reality is NO ONE enjoys wearing a face mask. No one wants to have to socially distance. But we have to be thankful for these new rules because without them we wouldn’t be able to BE at school.
Focus on the positive. We set the tone for our children and I am making sure to be upbeat about things but also cautiously optimistic about school staying open.
I’m not making any promises. I’m not building up this school year as a for sure thing.
The reality is there is a VERY likely chance we will at some point go to virtual learning. Maybe for a couple of weeks, maybe for the remainder of the year. Who knows what the school calendar will end up looking like in a month even! So until then? We all need to be thankful and appreciative of each school day we have!
I want my kids to have that excitement but also have the knowledge and understanding that it may be temporary. In this corona-life, I’ve had to stop allowing myself or my children to become too invested in plans or long term schedules. Everything we plan may very likely cancel. Every time we make a set schedule, it very likely will change. So YES be joyful and excited about school but also let’s not buy that school yearbook just yet either.
Take it day by day. Enjoy the day as it comes. We truly don’t know what tomorrow may bring! We just gotta pray our way through it!
Back to School 2020
The pandemic, in general, has been mental load overload for us mamas, but back to school this year? WHEW.
So many things have changed about school so many times. Our school starts today and I’m still not even sure the kids will ACTUALLY start back ha!
When Covid-19 was first making its appearance in the US back in March I remember buying so much food. I felt like it was one thing I could control. The world was chaos but I could feed my babies!
With back to school, I am feeling the same way. This school year is chaos but the one thing I can control is buying up all the supplies I can to do MY best to ensure my kids are prepared for in person instruction in hopes of both keeping them healthy, following all of the guidelines in the most comfortable way possible, and encouraging as much fun as I can into their daily school routines!
Here are all of the things I’ve purchased for my kids for back to school:
The Best Masks for Back to School
Of course the most important back to school item I was on the hunt for this year were face masks.
It’s funny because my kids did not really need back to school clothes…heck they wore PJs from March-August right?!?! I’ve been much more focused on finding masks that will be comfortable for them for all-day wear than I am worried about their school clothes.
Face masks and/or face coverings are required for our children to return to school. They are mandatory to wear all day even with smaller class sizes. It’s what the center for disease control recommends so our district is doing their best to adhere to all the guidelines and they put them into place as they discussed the decision about sending children to school this fall.
I have an upcoming 6th grader, 3rd grader, and 1st grader, and here are the masks that I’ve found have fit each of them the best as well as the ones they like the best too.
Pre-Teen – Teenager Sized Masks
This is a tricky age to buy a mask for! My son is going into sixth grade and starting middle school this year. So many of the “kid-size” masks are TINY and the adult ones can still be too big!
The Target masks for kids fit him the best of all the masks we’ve tried.
He prefers these masks by Cat and Jack as they have the metal nose piece to allow him to adjust it so it’s not pressed fully against his face. He says it’s much more comfortable!
He also really likes these masks as they are a different material and have a crease along the nose to help them not be as tight across the mouth.
Gaiters are a GREAT alternative to having a mask on all day and my son has found that he really likes the ones that have an ear hole as they stay up better and are more comfortable to him. I got him this set for school and I have a feeling it’ll be what he wears as his face covering most often. Perfect for the school day and less likely to get lost since he’ll be able to just pull it down around his neck when he is eating lunch!
Older Elementary School Student Sized Masks
My daughter is going into third grade and she has been THE toughest to find masks for. I don’t know if it’s because of her age and size or just her unique combination of personal facial features. But she is 8 years old and it has been tricky!
Her absolute favorite mask is this one I bought from Tiny Tales Creations – it’s reversible which is awesome and I ordered the child size for her.
The next best fit for her seems to be the face coverings from Target. I have found that these Cat and Jack masks with the metal piece on the nose vary in size! Some fit her awesome and others are too big and stretch out which is super frustrating.
I think for her I prefer these Target brand masks without the metal nose piece. They seem to fit her face better than the other set. I have also heard to try wearing these types of masks upside down with the nose area on the chin to help prevent the mask from sliding down as she talks.
Another favorite fit, and one that she finds among the most comfortable, are these which are also from Target. They are ALL cloth so I think that’s why they are comfortable on her ears!
My daughter is not a big fan of things around her neck so the gaiters are not her favorite but I think they make a great back up option to keep in her book bag in case her ears need a break! This set is sized for kids – they did NOT fit my son but fit both of my elementary-age daughters perfectly. So many fun colors and designs too.
Preschool – Early Elementary Age Student Sized Masks
My youngest daughter is entering first grade this year and she has been THE easiest to shop for when it comes to masks. It seems like most of the child-size masks run very small in size and fit her best out of all three of my oldest kids!
She also really likes her custom made mask. This mask is from Desiree Art Shop and I ordered her the kid’s size (my older daughter has the teen size and it fits great and I also have the same mask in the adult size and loved it too for the theme parks!).
I have heard a ton of great things about these children’s Vera Bradley masks and love that these go over the head rather than behind the ears. It’s a great option when her ears may get uncomfortable after having a mask on all day.
I was really excited about these masks from Old Navy but man they run SO SMALL. My six-year-old is my only child who can wear them. They come in tons of cute patterns and colors so at least she’ll have a lot of options 😉
These super cute masks from Shop Disney also run very small. She is also my only child that can wear them and they are BY FAR her absolute favorite masks! She is wearing a youth medium and it fits great but does not fit either of my older kids at all (and the adult sizes are way too big for them so Disney masks are just an out for the older ones).
Essential Items to Help with Mask Wearing
My plan for my kids and their masks for school is to have two masks planned per day. I made sure to have at least ten masks total for child so I’m able to only do laundry once a week 😉
I also bought this set of disposable masks to allow for them to have an easy back up just in case it’s needed. I do not think disposable masks fit as well as their other options but I also think it’s a great back-up to have on hand just in case!
To help keep their masks organized I bought this set of clear zip bags. They lay flat and fit easily in their book bags in order to keep extra masks easily on hand in the event that they are needed.
I also want to make sure to keep their masks organized at home. I bought this basket to keep in our laundry room to hold all of their clean masks. Before school each morning they can quickly grab their mask for the day on their way out the door and it’ll also make it easier to refill their spare mask bags if needed.
While I’m nervous about losing masks at school, I’m also nervous about losing them at home too. As parents, it’s one more thing to worry about and one more item on our mental load checklist!
My plan is to have them walk in the door from school and immediately put their mask from the day into their laundry bag.
I love these bags as they have a zip closure to keep all of the masks together and easy to toss in the washer (I then hang them dry) and keep them separated to know whose is whose. I also like that they have a little hook feature to allow them to hang off of my kids’ laundry baskets (we have this laundry hamper sorter so it’s perfect for hooking the laundry bags from!).
Speaking of masks getting lost…I KNOW we’re going to be losing masks at school. In considering that concern (masks ain’t cheap!) I went ahead and bought this set of mask lanyards to attach to their masks. These will help keep their masks around their necks when they remove them to eat or drink or at other times they may be given a mask break.
Best Water Bottles for Back to School
Another big concern about back to school is the lack of water fountain availability for kids throughout the day. We live in South Georgia. It’s currently in the upper 90s every single day and there is just no way kids can, or should, go all day without water.
Some schools have completely done away with water fountains for now while others have converted the fountains to fill stations. Either way, the kids need water bottles to take to school.
Usually, I get smaller sized water bottles for their lunches for the days we pack lunch (we LOVE these water bottles for lunch as well as these lunch storage containers) but I know just having their lunch water won’t be enough for the whole day (especially because I’m usually team buy school lunch!).
I did a lot of research and asking around and even bought some water bottles and then returned them as I thought more about it. I feel like this is an important decision as hydration is so important and I want to make sure my kids have water available to them all day!
I decided to go with the 22 oz size water bottle. I chose these water bottles due to their excellent reviews, straw drinking feature, ability to keep the water cold all day, and of course the fun designs. We will fill the water bottles with ice and water each morning and hope the kids are able to refill as needed throughout the day.
Other Items for Back to School During Pandemic
In addition to masks and water bottles, I also want to make sure my kids can have easy options to stay as healthy as possible.
Health and germ prevention begins in the home and I’m a big believer in vitamins and supplements as a way to help our bodies and immune systems operate at their best. Since the beginning of Corona, I’ve been hardcore about my kids taking these elderberry gummies each morning.
I know elderberry will not fight a virus should they contract one but I do firmly believe elderberry helps in strengthening the immune system and I’m also a big believer in “it can’t hurt to try!”
In addition to elderberry, my kids also take the Kidscents MightyVites Chewable Tablets as their multivitamins each morning, the Kidscents Mightpro probiotics, and these drops to add enough vitamin d to their daily diets.
While healthy living starts at home, I also want to make sure my kids have access to germ-fighting options at school as well.
I bought this pack of hand sanitizer refill bottles with hooks to attach to their book bags or lunch boxes. We have a large hand sanitizer pump at home that I can use to refill for them as needed!
We all know that the coronavirus is an infectious disease so having sanitizer available can really help in preventing the spread and keeping my own children healthy too.
I also bought these wipes refillable packs to keep some wipes on hand for easy, quick wipe downs of their desks or table when eating or any other time they may need quick access to clean off an area!
Final Thoughts on Start of the 2020 – 2021 School Year
As I send my babies off on their first day of school this year I’m filled with excitement. Joy. Anticipation. Fear.
A true roller coaster of emotions and if this pandemic has taught me anything it’s that the best way to cope with all the emotions thrown our way is to just stay on the ride. Keep going forward. Keep trusting that God has a plan in all of this and that we will see His hand at work through everything!
My oldest son told me last night as I tucked him in before his first day of middle school that if I gave him the choice right now of going to Disney World or going to school he would choose school. He is THAT excited to be there!
It may not be a normal year. It may not end up being the same type of educational experience by the end of the year that we’re starting with on the first day, but it’s still a gift and a blessing to be heading back to school and we will enjoy and appreciate each day (and keep praying that distance learning won’t have to happen!).
Whatever path your family is taking this year I wish you all of the best and know that you are not alone in your concerns for your children. We all need to support each other and be there for each other as we get through this crazy year together!