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Handling Back to School Anxiety: Pandemic Edition

Handling Back to School Anxiety: Pandemic Edition

As back to school season appears on the horizon, parents and children are apprehensive — and perhaps even afraid — of attending in-person school. But how can parents help ensure their children are cautious and safe without instilling fear? 

Back to school season can be nerve wracking for any kid. Add in pandemic stressors and your children may be facing higher levels of anxiety than usual. Despite the fear that the pandemic can stir, there are ways to approach back to school season with caution, safety and fun:

  • Figure out COVID-19 safety precautions. While several California counties have lifted or adjusted COVID-19 safety guidelines, it varies by county and school district. Connect with your child's school ahead of time to discuss what safety procedures are taking place.
  • Update school supply lists. Alongside tissue boxes, notebooks and pencils, remember to get hand sanitizer and good face masks for your kiddos. Nowadays, mini hand sanitizers can be found everywhere with easy attachments for backpacks, belt loops and more. They also come in a wide variety of colors and scents, making something useful a bit more fun for kids.
  • Create a positive environment. Although certain guidelines have adjusted, many school districts will require masks to be worn indoors — which can bring complaints from children and teenagers alike. Use this as a teaching opportunity for kids to recognize that this is an opportunity for them to help keep others safe. Foster an uplifting environment and encourage them to be positive.
  • Monitor COVID-19 cases. Keep an eye on the news for frequent updates on COVID-19 cases and state guidelines or announcements. With rising COVID-19 Delta variant cases in California, this is especially important.
  • Help them remember that everyone feels stress. While fears and stressors differ, everyone is going through something. Back to school stress and anxiety is normal, especially during a pandemic, so it’s important that kids remember that they're not alone in this unique experience.
  • Have a trial run. Help ease your kids back into a social environment by organizing a small, casual playdate with friends or neighbors.
  • Practice caution over fear. Children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in California, which can make attending school in person worrisome for children and parents. Establish safe practices with your children by encouraging them to maintain healthy habits at school, such as:
    • Wearing a mask
    • Washing hands regularly
    • Using hand sanitizer
    • Monitoring symptoms and staying home from school when they're sick
    • Social distancing
    • Adhering to the school's COVID-19 safety guidelines

Living through a pandemic has been challenging for all, but there's hope on the horizon, especially as we prepare for back to school season. Establish healthy practices so that your kids can approach school with caution rather than fear, and make the most out of a unique situation.


This article first appeared in the August 2021 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.

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