This week has been especially difficult after Trump’s order to open schools or lose federal funding. This took many of us by surprise and the question is “now what should we do?”

The first thing to do is take a deep breath and relax. It can help you think and make intelligent decisions. This is not just an idle recommendation. It actually works.

Remember that it is your response to life and the problems we all face that is under your control. You can control your reaction. It reminds me of when I lived in Geneva, Switzerland with three kids under the age of five in a small two bedroom apartment on the 5th floor without an elevator. No dishwasher, laundry, place for the kids to play, kids TV shows and English language. I had to endure this for more than a year. Not fun but I was determined not to let it get me down and it worked. My attitude was the key. I realized it was not forever.

This pandemic is not forever either, even though it feels like it. It will pass but our grief will endure. We just need to look at the history of pandemics to see that they eventually burn out. At some point, life will be more “normal.’ We just need to keep hope and the end point in mind. That was the name of a conference in Latin America that I spoke at this past week: Light at the End! There is light.

Parents magazine suggested 7 support groups for parents. Often we need a place to vent, get or give advice, or feel heard. Finding others who share your struggles is a helpful antidote for coping with challenges.

Now to the idea of reopening schools. Looks like that is harder than shutting them down. Kids are likely not carriers and they do not get sick. So it might be okay for elementary school kids to go back to school. It is less clear when it comes to teenagers. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among nearly 150,000 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. between Feb. 12 and April 2, only about 2,500, or 1.7%, were in children. This is similar to what has been reported in other countries, such as China and Italy, that have had large outbreaks.

The Atlantic had a great article about the 8 steps schools should take to reopen. It won’t be easy but it is possible.

  1. Shield the most vulnerable which includes kids or staff with underlying conditions
  2. Cut out large assemblies, meetings cafeterias, theatres or gyms.  Cut out choir because singing spreads germs.
  3. Eliminate non essential visits by parents, delivery people, maintenance workers.
  4. Kids should stay home when they are sick
  5. Kids should wash their hands routinely and wear a face mask
  6. Reduce mixing staff and students
  7. Have smaller meeting groups and alternate between in person and remote learning
  8. Be prepared with remote learning in case some kids get sick.

We should always be prepared to use remote learning. Don’t let it shock you like it did this spring if suddenly your child’s classroom is closed down. There are many options for remote learning at all grade levels across reading, math and science.