Back to School: Transition to Campuses During COVID-19

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The return to school campuses can be both exciting and worrying for students and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. For students who have ADHD, it presents the opportunity for in-school educational

supports, along with the chance to be with friends and classmates again.

Times of transition can be stressful. Returning to in-person education changes daily routines established during the pandemic and require students and parents to adjust to classroom instruction again. Recognizing these stressors is important in how you are able to cope with them.

Children, and often their parents, might be finding it hard to adjust to returning to campus. Some students thrived during the period of at-home learning. Some students experienced an “academic slide” or learning loss during this time. Some families also continue to find it hard to juggle school, family life, and adult work obligations. While all students can benefit from in-person instruction, learning approaches that meet both the child and family needs are often the best choices.

School Accommodations

The return to on-campus schooling is a good time for parents and caregivers to meet with their children’s educational teams to update 504 plans, IEPs, [] or other school district-based academic accommodation plans. If your child’s accommodation plan lapsed during the pandemic, you may need to request an academic evaluation to create a new plan.

Parents and caregivers who think their children could benefit from a learning accommodations plan and don’t already have one can take this opportunity to request an academic evaluation. Academic plans can also include provisions for potential at-home learning periods that may occur, due to either illness outbreaks or quarantine following exposure to COVID-19.

Transitioning from At-Home Learning to School Campuses

In addition to meeting with your child’s academic team or teacher regarding academic accommodations, continue to check in with your child about how the return to school is going. Some children may need reassurance or coaching when it comes to renewing friendships. Other children will need their questions answered regarding COVID-19 and their individual health risks. Answering questions accurately and honestly, while displaying confidence that these situations will be alright, can help children make the transition from at-home learning to campus-based learning in more positive ways.

Expect that the transition back into school may not go smoothly. During the first months back, you might find that you want to simplify family activities, sports, or club obligations, and build in family downtime. This could allow your child and you some time to adjust to these changes, evaluate daily and weekly routines, and create reasonable goals for the beginning of the school session.

Educational Support at Home

If your child had difficulties getting ready for school in the morning before at-home learning, take the opportunity to make a new morning plan or routine with your child. If homework and study time was difficult before or during at-home learning, consider what the challenges were and look for a new approach that minimizes difficulties.

You can also support your children by helping them create a routine for getting ready to go to school and for after the school day is over, including time and space for homework. Keep in mind, many children, and especially those with ADHD, are holding in their emotions and struggling to keep up during the school day. They frequently come home to where they know they are safe and experience a meltdown or rebound when all those emotions come spilling forth.

Creating a transition time between school and home can help them release those emotions without the meltdown or poor behavior; this can be a time to play outside or go for a walk, read a book, grab a snack, or visit with their parents. Allowing for a transition and acknowledging your child’s struggle during this time can improve family time in the evenings and make doing homework a little less difficult.