I’m eagerly preparing myself for in-person “school” to begin here on campus. Ever since March, when we closed the Head-Royce campus and moved to virtual learning, I have been moving through my own phases of sadness, denial, adjustment and now, acceptance and optimism. Over the course of the summer, I returned to the HRS campus as my primary work location—and have also adjusted my habits. I now pack my lunch, put on a new version of “work clothes,” drive up to campus and settle into my office to take zoom calls and sometimes the treat of a socially-distanced outdoor meeting.
It has also allowed me to practice wearing my mask, eat my lunch at a nice outdoor spot, meet fellow administrators for a walking meeting around the field, test out our new Magnus screening daily health app and try out the new one-way walking routes through our campus. The benefit of being on campus is acclimatizing to a routine (one that used to be so normal) under new circumstances. I’ve also been able to notice and appreciate the careful campus planning we’ve put in place and follow the guidelines for safe use of our spaces.
I’m looking forward to having our K-5 students on campus over the next few weeks--and to bringing our older students back over the rest of the fall—and also want to acknowledge the emotional challenges of leaving the comfort of my home to come to school. It took a while to adjust to a “new” Head-Royce—it felt different. Now that I’m back on campus regularly, I am mindful of all of the new considerations we need to be aware of for our students.
A recent New York Times article, “Prepare Kids for Back to School,” clearly conveyed what families and teachers need to consider. Below is a helpful guide for you and your family to consider with some suggestions on areas for practice and discussion.
Practice what you’ve learned this summer: Keep wearing masks, practice social distancing, and make careful choices about out-of-school socializing and make use of the outdoors.
Maintain back-to-school rituals: Perhaps you and your child need to make sure supplies are set: an extra mask in the pack, water bottle and snacks are ready! What about that back-to-school outfit?
Do a dress rehearsal: Practice getting clothes and supplies ready the night before, getting up a bit earlier, eating breakfast, driving to campus the week before.
Let the kids lead: Ask your child about what they are excited about and worried about instead of sharing your concerns. Are there scenarios to discuss in advance to make the first days smoother?
Prepare children (and yourself) with the facts: Read through our Roadmap to Reopening with your child and help them visualize what campus and their classroom may look and feel like. Help them make a list of questions to ask their teacher or advisor. It won’t be the same as last year but it will very quickly feel “normal.”
Keep communicating openly: Keep your check-ins about school on the lighter side and focus on how they are feeling about the experience of being in person after time away.
Celebrate! Plan a special meal or treat at the end of the first week!
And, I’d also add, be extra sensitive to those who are not back at school and are choosing distance learning for personal and family reasons.
I was pretty tired after my first few days “back in the office.” Our students have been away from physical school and their classmates for seven months--so it will certainly be a bit bumpy and strange for a while. A number of new students are coming to campus for the very first time. That’s okay. Kids are resilient and will find ways to regulate and adjust pretty quickly, often more quickly than us adults. Focus on what they can control and celebrate this huge marker in their lives. Even though it has been a long and challenging stretch, we have all learned new skills of resilience, technology, and the ability to connect over screens. I look forward to the day when this all seems in the rearview mirror, but for now, one step forward at a time!