Tips to help children return to school safely and successfully

September 04, 2020
The Employee Assistance Program offered through the Board of Pensions can help parents and children head back to school safely and with confidence.

While many children experience back-to-school jitters every year, the transition may be more stressful this year. Whether returning to the classroom or beginning the school year online (or a combination of the two), there are things parents can do to help things go smoothly.

Here are some tips from the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Classroom learning

  • Review safety measures that will be in place and describe how this might impact the school day. For example, there may be regular (non-invasive) temperature checks required, classes may be smaller, and physical education and recess may have restrictions.
  • Revisit healthy hygiene rules, including mask wearing, proper handwashing, coughing etiquette, and keeping hands off their face. Emphasize that even though some things will feel like they are going back to normal, people still need to be careful.
  • Provide reassurance. Children are likely to pick up on the controversies and safety concerns related to returning to school, but they may not voice their fears. Check in with them about how they are feeling and watch for signs of stress; for example, trouble sleeping, poor concentration, or irritability.

Virtual learning

  • Focus on the positives. Point out that teachers have had more time to prepare and this may be a better experience compared to when schools had to quickly switch to online learning.
  • Design and stick to a schedule. Having a consistent schedule for schoolwork helps parents plan their workday and lets students transition in and out of school time more easily. Be sure to include time for physical activity.
  • Find safe ways for children to stay in touch with friends. Social ties have a positive effect on academic achievement, so consider ways to help your child stay connected. For example, you may organize a daily video chat with a friend or peer group, or an outdoor activity with a small group of classmates.

Hybrid learning (combination classroom and virtual)

  • Talk positively about both methods, even if it’s not easy for you.
  • Be prepared for disruptions in friendships. Your child’s best friends may be on a different schedule for classroom learning. Encourage your child to use this as an opportunity to make new friends while finding ways to stay in touch with their other friends.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Hybrid learning can be a scheduling nightmare. Reach out to trusted family members and friends to see if they can help, tag team with your spouse or partner, or see if your school or day care can provide information for tutors or caregivers.

If you need support

If you or your child is feeling stressed about school or if you need help with personal or family concerns, the EAP can help. This confidential service is available free of charge to eligible employees,* their family members, and anyone who lives in the employee’s home.

You can access EAP services 24/7 by

  • calling Cigna, the administrator for the EAP, at 866-640-2772 to talk with an EAP advocate who can provide referrals and direct you to helpful tools and resources; or
  • logging on to Cigna’s website (one-time registration is required; use pcusa for Employee’s Employer ID) from your home computer, tablet, or smartphone. From the EAP coverage page, you can live chat with an advocate or click on the Work/Life Resources link under Home Life Referrals to access helpful articles, checklists, videos, and other resources.

Learn about other no-cost services available through the EAP.

*The EAP is not available to members enrolled in Triple-S, GeoBlue, or the Medicare Supplement Plan.