Back to School Supply List includes Masks & Lanyards

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There’s a new supply list this back to school year, including masks and mask lanyards. Comically, there are also Clorox Wipes on the list…good luck with that one.

picture of a girl with a backpack wearing a mask and mask lanyard
Backpack? Check. Mask? Check. Mask Lanyard? Check.
Clorox Wipes? Not a chance.

all the Options for school

Options, options, options. I’ve watched all the live Zoom calls to understand the options. There are three main options for schooling this first semester, which include 100% virtual learning, a hybrid model where kids go for a few days, and learn from home a few days, and for some kids, particularly those in Special Education, will be able to attend each day in-person learning is offered.

For our family that means my oldest is eligible to attend 4 days a week, and my youngest 2. Both will be home for ‘synchronous virtual learning’ on Wednesdays. I’m challenging how truly accessible that one-day of virtual learning is for my child with significant learning challenges will be – because I won’t be able to be by her side to assist (like an aide would in her classroom) but that’s a story for another post.

how we decided…my to do list

  • Write down questions
  • Read all materials provided by the district
  • [First LOCATE all of the materials provided by the district uploaded to different platforms]
  • Write down MORE questions
  • Attend all Zoom calls [that are conveniently offered in the middle of my workday]
  • Schedule calls with school officials for unanswered questions [who are on summer break]
  • Review local COVID numbers & assess risk
  • Find articles about in-person schooling in other countries
  • Survey both kids for levels of anxiety
  • Determine whether I can order supplies online rather than go to Wal Mart (more a plea to the universe than a to-do)

Whaaaaaat?! My Kids want to go to school

My kids are both eager to go back to school. I have to re-read that sentence because I can hardly believe it. They WANT to go back to school. But, more important, they NEED school. My kids have each seen 3 (highly vetted) people since March. And, that wasn’t allowed until just last month. The social isolation is simply not healthy.

No perfectly right answer

After all of those steps and hours upon hours of review, I’ve decided there are no perfect answers here, folks. Some parents are petrified, and keeping kids home. Some live in areas where the risk is high and COVID numbers are up. Other parents have to work and can’t be home to school kids. Some families live with members who are high risk, should they contract COVID-19. Whatever works for your family situation IS the right answer.

making the decision

For me, I’m petrified, but know my kids NEED to go. Working in healthcare, with a very vulnerable population (seniors), I know how a good plan can yield good results. That’s not to say no one ever gets COVID-19, but a good plan allows for both preventing and mitigating. So, I review my school’s plan for both.

As a family we’ve decided that both kids will go in-person on the days offered. We are not so sure how we’ll support at-home days of learning – but will figure it out. We continue to practice CDC basic strategies with the kids. Hand washing, physical distancing, wearing a mask and cough etiquette. Practice fist bumps. Use hand sanitizer. How to put on and take off the mask. We’re all getting really good at this!

panic! kids keeping track of masks

That’s when the wave of panic hit me! Masks. The newest addition to the school supply list. The district has assured parents that there will be mask breaks during the school day. Where will my kids set them down? Will they come home with it? Or –gasp– someone else’s mask? My kid is quite literal, which means, although it may be implied not to share masks, it must be explicitly SAID.

With that, I tried to find a mask lanyard – but most had lobster or jewelry clips that my kiddo would not be able to navigate due to fine motor challenges. I also could not find one that had a safety break-away …another must have. So, just like we as special needs parents do – I modified and adapted. I made my own! 

Nice wide metal pinch clips and a safety breakaway! And, a sigh of relief that my kids won’t be setting down masks where they don’t belong.

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Hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst, I am trying to mentally prep for when schools close should student(s) test positive. In the meantime, my kids will go back to albeit a very different environment, one that is as safe as possible but includes much needed, live human interaction.

In the meantime I’m preparing my kids for a different in-person school experience, spending time practicing the infection control basics, and desperately seeking some Clorox Wipes to complete the school supply list for this fall!

As a fellow parent in a family with special needs, I’m wishing all of you peace of mind with your school decisions. As parents, we make the best decisions we can with the information we have, and unlike that multiple choice test in high school, there really are no perfectly right or wrong answers.

Related Links
10 Questions to ask your school about COVID-19 plans
Face Masks: Our Latest Challenge
To School or not to School?
Get a Mask Lanyard!

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