Back to School is going to be interesting this year.
Some states will not be opening public schools at all, while others (like Florida) are anticipating opening to full capacity. Add to that the uncertainty around various policies moving forward and continued resurgences of new cases…
Being able to adapt to potentially changing circumstances as the months unfold will be a key feature of this years back to school planning.
Online, Distance, or In Person
Determining if your state and school, in particular, will be returning to in-person classes or distance learning is the very first step you should take. What you and your family’s situation will be is dictated by a couple of factors including health, finance, what state you live in, and the resources available to you. I will say that some schools are trying to be more flexible with online learning alternatives, but what that means and how that affects your options will change depending on your school and state.
Prepare for Change
Whether you are going back to school in person or digitally, unless you have enrolled in a specifically all-online program, you may end up changing from in-person to distance learning at any point between now and the end of the semester, if not the entire year.
The situation with COVID is a continuously changing and developing. If you or your child do not do well with change or struggle with uncertainty, this is going to be challenging and it may be worth considering an alternative. Many universities and even state public schools have options for entirely online curriculum available for students free of charge. The options may differ for you and you should always do your research on the different programs. But if you or your student struggle more with uncertainty than you might with an online class it may be worth exploring those options.
Have ‘Supplies’ Ready
On top of the standard back to school supplies list, there is now a new category of school supplies that students need to consider, and sooner rather than later.
If you are returning to school in person this fall, regardless of your school’s individual policies, you can still wear a mask even if you’re school does not require it. Yes, it’s always a little uncomfortable to be the only one wearing a mask, but that discomfort is not worth risking others’ health. I also recommend purchasing a reasonable amount of hand sanitizer (please do not hoard essential supplies) and disinfecting wipes. Using hand sanitizer does little if you don’t also wipe down your desk.
Set up a Focus Routine
Having a rhythm to your day or your studies can really help you to stay focused and stay on top of things. The rhythm or pattern that works for you may be different from what works for someone else. If you find something that really works for you then stick to it, even if it is a little unconventional. But likewise don’t be afraid to try new patterns or routines, you may be able to isolate what it is that helps you even if you don’t stick with the overall routine. I will be doing a video on my focus/study routine on my YouTube channel later this month.
This includes having a predetermined space to do your work. I know some of us like to go out and get our work done in places like coffee shops or libraries. That may not be possible this year or is at least very ill-advised. So having an established place to get your work done that is comfortable, uncluttered, and easy to focus in is key. Again, I will be showing you how I set up my workspace shortly. While there is no perfect system some of the things I do may help you with your own setup.
Don’t Overload Yourself
There’s a lot going on this year. And while academics are important, please don’t feel the need to place any undue pressure on yourself. Piling up additional classes or activities is not something I would recommend. In particular, extracurriculars. It is entirely likely that athletics, volunteering, or other extracurriculars may be put on hold at various points throughout the coming year.
Things are bound to be a little bit different this year. Figure out where and how your education will continue, be prepared to embrace change as it comes, have disinfecting supplies ready, set up a focus routine and be careful not to overload yourself.
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