Dr. Meg’s Updated COVID-19 Fall 2020 School Guide

Parents, you made it! We are officially halfway through the fall semester. Here are a few tips to get you through the end of the season—sanity intact.
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Last Updated
April 22, 2019
posted on
October 23, 2020
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4
Minute Read

No Matter How Your Child Is Learning this Fall Here’s How to Survive the Semester

Every parent and child is on a unique journey with school this year. Some of your children have been remote learning this semester. Some are in doing in-person school with masks. And some of you have opted to homeschool your child, perhaps for the first time.

No matter which education path you are one right now (and if you decided to just skip school this year, no one could blame you), it’s time for a check-in. How are you doing? How is your child doing? Is remote learning working? Is homeschool working?

Wherever you are, I want you to know even in the midst of a pandemic, you are doing a great job raising a great kid. You might be stressed about your child’s education this year. You may worry she isn’t getting what she needs or that she’ll fall behind, but let me assure you, kids are resilient, and kids are smart. They can learn in unusual circumstances and even if they aren’t learning as much as usual during this particular season, trust that they are getting exactly what they need.

Now that we are in the middle of the fall semester, I want to share a few tips and tricks to get you through the next few weeks.  

If your child is remote learning…

This option is becoming more popular among parents, so you are definitely not alone in choosing to have your child learn remotely this year. According to a Gallop survey taken in May this year, 56% of parents said they preferred full-time in-person learning for their child. When surveyed again in July, only 36% of parents preferred this.

Now, as we might be entering a third wave of the virus, I suspect more and more parents will be choosing this option.

If your child is remote learning this fall, don’t forget to reach out to other parents for support.

You’ve probably heard about “learning pods,” the latest trend where parents are teaming up with other parents to form small groups where their children can learn together while being taught by a tutor. While this is a great way to ensure your child gets social time as well as one-on-one learning time, tutors for learning pods can be quite expensive and aren’t an option for many families.

Still, the idea of not doing virtual learning alone is a good principle to hold onto.

If you can’t afford a learning pod, consider other options. For example, do you have any fellow parents you could reach out to when you have questions or simply need to vent? If your work schedule allows, could you and your child safely meet up with one of her classmates to work through a subject that is particularly challenging for her?

You don’t have to hire a tutor to ensure your child has a positive online learning experience. Get creative, reach out to your community, and see what you can come up with together.

If your child is doing in-person school…

As we enter cold and flu season, it is even more crucial that your child stays safe at school. 

I don’t want you or your child to be alarmed, but I do want you to be prepared.

For the next several weeks, make sure you stay informed.

Do you know what precautions your child’s school is taking to protect students and staff? If you don’t, contact your child’s teacher and make sure the school has precautions in place.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has several recommendations for schools on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Some of these recommendations include: 

  • Physical distancing: Having children stay six feet apart from each other when not in the classroom and placing desks three feet apart.
  • Mask requirements: All adults should wear masks or face coverings at all times, as adults are more susceptible to contract and spread the illness.
  • Classroom changes: Teachers are also encouraged to change classrooms, rather than having students change classrooms for each class. Students should also be able to eat in their classrooms at their desks rather than in a cafeteria. 

The AAP also recommends frequent temperature checks of students when a student is exhibiting symptoms and consistent disinfecting of classrooms and common areas. 

If you’re homeschooling your child…

If you’re new to homeschooling your child, don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t found a rhythm yet. You and your child are undergoing a major transition. Don’t be hard on yourselves and make sure your expectations are appropriate given the circumstances.

Don’t expect your child to listen to you in the same way she did her teacher at school.

Children listen to their teachers better than their parents. This is simply how it is with kids. Teachers and parents play different roles in a child’s life, so don’t expect your child to listen to you and follow your instructions the same way she would her teacher at school. She doesn’t see you as her teacher. You are still just mom and dad. Resetting your expectations in this area will save you from a lot of unnecessary frustration.

Don’t try to cover more than one subject a day, if possible.

Although your child is taking several subjects, consider just covering one subject per day or similar subjects, such as English and history in one day and math and science on the other. This will help your child settle into one side of his brain and develop just one skill at a time, rather than growing frustrated with trying to work on every skill at once.

I applaud all parents no matter where and how your child is learning this year. You are having to make tough decisions. You’re balancing work, your child’s education, and the unknowns that come along with COVID-19. Do your best. Set realistic expectations. And trust your gut. You know what is best for your child.


Dr. Meg Meeker, MD

Practicing pediatrician, parent, grandparent, coach, speaker, and author. Say hello @MegMeekerMD

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