With the start of yet another school, we’ve found ourselves equal parts excited and nervous—what will the return to classrooms look like for our kids during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Let’s look at some of the ways to ensure that our kids are safe, but that they also still enjoy school and make the most of their time there.

Get All the Information You Need
1. Talk to your children’s teachers about the safety measures that will be implemented, and make sure you are ready to adhere to them. Schools across the country will have different precautions in place, so make sure you are up to date with yours.

2. Talk to your child’s pediatrician as well if you have any specific concerns, especially if your child is prone to colds or if they have any health issues.

3. Talk to your child about their fears and concerns.

4. Talking to your child about everything they can expect this school year is very important. Make sure they understand all the measures their school will be implementing, and more importantly, why they matter.

5. Talk about the importance of washing hands and wearing masks again, in an age-appropriate way. It will certainly be difficult for younger kids to understand why they shouldn’t hug their friends but ensuring they understand the importance of social distancing is key.

6. Older kids might have health and safety concerns, and talking through them before they actually return to school can help them alleviate some of their fears.

Keep Them Healthy
Our body’s own immune system is one of the key defenders in our battle against the coronavirus, so making sure your kids are as healthy as possible is a great first step in ensuring they are as safe as possible.

7. Start every day with a healthy breakfast, pack them lunches and snacks that are also full of healthy vitamins and minerals, and make sure they are getting their five a day every day. Get them involved and find and make delicious meals they will want to eat together.

8. Kids need plenty of sleep, between 8 and 12 hours, so focus on providing it. Limit their screen time before bed, as blue light can keep them awake, make sure they get some exercise in, even if it’s just in the home, and mind what they eat before bed (cut out sugars and anything caffeinated, like tea).

Get Your Routines down
Chances are it will take you a bit longer to prepare for school than usual, and you also might need to look into different modes of transportation.

9. Before in-school learning rolls around, compile a list of everything that needs to get done, and plan out your plan of action. Purchase all the school supplies, any new items of clothing, backpacks, and everything else a new school year usually entails.

10. Think about getting to and from school. Is there a school bus, can you carpool, or does your child need a ride? When and where do they wash and disinfect their hands, do they need to wear a mask or other protective clothing? Teaching them a new sanitary routine is the best way to ensure they stick to it.

If They Don’t Go to School, It’s Still Okay
Depending on how the situation with the pandemic will keep developing, you need to be aware of the possibility that your child might need to stay at home again. Instead of having to scramble for entertainment and educational resources then, why not give yourself plenty of time to prepare in advance.

11. Start by assembling worksheets and workbooks you can use if you need to, or even as just an addition to your kids’ regular schoolwork. Workbooks for reading comprehension are a great way to pass the time and work on these skills, and the same goes for math worksheets.

12. Compile a list of educational videos or series you can watch, and arm yourself with plenty of fun activities if you are ever stuck in the home again.

Try to Stay Calm
While it is incredibly difficult to plan ahead or know what the future brings, as long as you have a plan in place and know what the recommended precautions are, you should be safe and should focus on remaining as calm as possible.

13. Try not to let your negative and fearful emotions show. Kids will pick up on them very quickly and will begin to feel scared and uneasy themselves.

Take a Moment to Celebrate
No matter what the state of the world actually is, you should still take the opportunity to celebrate the beginning of a new school year, as it is a significant milestone after all.

14. Plan a celebratory dinner, make a cake, organize a socially distanced party if it is safe –find a way to make this time of year special for your child, and don’t let the coronavirus stop you.