If you have school-age children, there are, on average, six hours a day that they aren’t in your care for \the majority of the year.

During these critical waking hours, your children are learning, experiencing and growing with the help of school teachers and staff members.

How can we as a community, a state and a nation take people so important to the futures of our children for granted?

No doubt, the coronavirus pandemic has been a harsh lesson in just how difficult the job of educating our youth can be. Many of us learned or had reaffirmed that we weren’t cut out to be teachers as we slogged through seemingly endless math problems, writing prompts and reading assignments with our students during distance learning. And, now, teachers and staff head back into buildings for either their first in-person classes in months or for a new adventure in teaching virtually, without the aid of take-home packets. They face new guidelines and unfamiliar restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. And they’ll be constantly worrying about the health and safety of their students ... and themselves.

So, how can we as parents and a community make life a little easier on teachers this year? How can we help minimize the stress of this strange school year we have ahead?

Make a conscious effort to do what your school system is asking of you. Check your child’s temperature. Keep them home if they are feeling sick. Make sure your child knows they need to wear their mask when it is required. Be positive about your school’s plan in front of your child, even when you don’t agree with it.

Realize the teacher isn’t making the rules. Don’t take out your frustrations on the teachers. They’re likely just as frustrated.

If you notice anxiety in your child about the situation, contact the teacher and fill them in. They can’t help if they aren’t sure what’s going on, but they may be able to point you toward resources if you give them an idea of the problems your child is facing.

Be open about medical issues your child is experiencing. Don’t hide circumstances or conditions from the teacher if special accommodations need to be made.

Have a positive attitude each morning as you send your child off to school. If you set the right tone, your child will carry into the real or virtual classroom.

Be responsive to notes and other communication from your child’s teacher. Create an open dialogue and working relationship.

If you’re appreciative of their efforts, let them know with a quick thank-you note or a positive email. If you want to send a gift, make it hand sanitizer or Clorox wipes.

Advocate for your teachers at school board meetings and at the ballot box.

With a little effort, we can make sure this school year bucks the 2020 trend and our children have the best experience possible.

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