Things to know before remote learning begins in Massachusetts

Hampden County

(WWLP) – Following the labor day weekend, many western Massachusetts districts are getting ready to start the school year with remote learning.

22News is working for you with some things parents should be keeping in mind before the start of online classes.

One of the most important things to do for your child is to create a schedule with them, and make a commitment to stick with it.

The CDC has issued a checklist of tasks for parents to complete before the school year begins.

Structure and routine can help keep your child from falling behind with assignments. Try to find a space where you live that’s free of distractions, noise, and clutter for learning and doing homework.

Parents should also try to identify opportunities for their child to connect with their friends either virtually or in person, while maintaining physical distance.

The CDC also had the following check list which highlights ways to plan for virtual at home learning:

  • Find out if there will be regular and consistent opportunities during each day for staff and student check-ins and peer-to-peer learning.
  • Find out if students have regular opportunities for live video instruction by teachers or if they will primarily be watching pre-recorded videos and receive accompanying assignments.
  • Ask if the school will offer virtual or socially distanced physical activity. If not, identify ways to add physical activity to your child’s daily routine.
  • Ask your school what steps they are taking to help students adjust to being back in school and to the ways that COVID-19 may have disrupted their daily life. Supports may include school counseling and psychological services, social-emotional learning (SEL)-focused programs, and peer/social support groups.
  • If your child participates in school meal programs, identify how your school district plans to make meals available to students who are learning virtually at home.
  • If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan or receives other learning support like tutoring, ask your school how these services will continue during virtual at-home learning.
  • If your child receives speech, occupational or physical therapy, or other related services from the school, ask your school how these services will continue during virtual at-home learning.
  • If your child receives mental health or behavioral services like social skills training or counseling, ask your school how these services will continue during virtual at-home learning.
  • If you anticipate having technological barriers to learning from home, ask if your school or community can provide support or assistance for students without appropriate electronic devices for schoolwork (like a computer/ laptop or tablet).
  • If your school offers a hybrid model, be familiar with your school’s plan for how they will communicate with families when a positive case or exposure to someone with COVID-19 is identified and ensure student privacy is upheld.

Lastly, be sure to watch for and anticipate behavioral changes in your child, which may be signs of your child struggling with stress and anxiety.

  • Watch for and anticipate behavior changes in your child such as excessive crying or irritation, excessive worry or sadness, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, and difficulty concentrating which may be signs of your child struggling with stress and anxiety.
  • Talk with your child about how school is going and about interactions with classmates and teachers. Find out how your child is feeling and communicate that what they may be feeling is normal.
  • Ask your school about any plans to reduce potential stigma related to having or being suspected of having COVID-19.
  • Ask your school about any plans to support school connectedness to ensure that students do not become socially isolated during extended periods of virtual/at-home learning.
  • Check if your school has any systems in place to identify and provide mental health services to students in need of support. If so, identify the point of contact for these services at your school.
  • Identify opportunities for your child to be physically active during virtual/at-home learning.
  • Check if your school will provide virtual/at-home training for students in mindfulness, incorporating SEL into classroom curriculum, or stress and coping supports for your child.
  • You can be a role model for your child by practicing self-care such as taking breaks, getting plenty of sleep, exercising, eating well, and staying socially connected

As for Chicopee schools, the city plans to phase students back into the classroom every few weeks, depending on the status of infection rates in Chicopee.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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