Back-to-school supplies and classrooms were a bit different this year for Cyrus. He never imagined masked faces, desks equipped with plastic shields, and alcohol wipes to sanitize surfaces would become classroom staples.
This is the environment that Los Alamitos sophomore, Cyrus, is growing accustomed to.
He said, “I was eager to go back to school in person, but it is definitely different.” Like most of his peers, Cyrus was looking forward to getting back to school again. But for many across the country, the return to the classroom can be anxiety-inducing.
“I love seeing my students in person again, but I also worry for them because I understand that after a duration of isolation and uncertainty, the in-person learning experience that’s supposed to be ‘normal’ may feel like a new beginning for many students,” said Rachel, an English teacher in Southern California.
But parents can help prepare their children for what may be a tough transition.
“Maintaining an open line of communication to gauge how they’re feeling during this time is important,” Rachel said. “Having a simple conversation with the students will help immensely.”
Cyrus’ parents, Andrew and Candice, make it a point to keep a regular routine of spending time together as a family. While coronavirus variants have amplified pandemic anxieties, they are reassured that their sons are equipped to deal with the challenges they may face.
Audrey, 12, also had some uncertainties about returning to a physical classroom. I’m not sure how it’s going to completely work,” said Audrey of her middle school in Southern California. “How many kids are going to be in each classroom? Are we going to have a table where we sit together?”
Audrey’s parents, John and Michelle, email teachers with questions and regularly talk with their daughter about her day. They designate every Saturday afternoon as family time. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, they look for practical Bible-based advice to help with any issues or concerns.
“We review how to display Christian qualities such as love and patience and have role-playing sessions to listen to how Audrey would react to stressful or dangerous situations,” John said. “This has helped Audrey feel confident about returning to school.”
While coronavirus variants have amplified pandemic anxieties, Audrey’s parents have endeavored not to overlook other challenges their daughter may face.
One of their favorite resources is jw.org, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses that is free to all. Topics like “What’s a Real Friend?” and “Beat a Bully Without Using Your Fists” are addressed there in a video series for young people that Audrey recommends to everyone.
“The website has some really cool information that has helped me prepare for back to school,” Audrey said. “I think it can really benefit any student who is nervous about going back. They should really check it out!”