As our nation continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, debates are raging across the country about how to safely reopen the schools. Each state has its own guidelines, and in most states, school districts have been given the flexibility to decide what works best in their local area.
Under New Jersey guidelines, for example, in-person instruction must be part of the reopening plan, but districts are also allowed to use a “hybrid” model that combines both in person and distance learning. And of course, there is a long list of safety measures that must be implemented for in-person classes.
As we move into the final days of summer, many parents still do not know what is happening with their local schools. Will the kids be in school, or will they be at home doing distance learning? Or will they be doing some of both?
Will they be staggering school hours to keep the class sizes lower? If so, how will that affect their child’s start time? What about sports and other extracurricular activities? Are these still happening, or are some or all of them going to be canceled?
These are all questions that parents usually know the answer to at least a few months in advance, but this year, many are left waiting for last-minute decisions. And one thing we have come to realize with COVID-19 is that none of these decisions are ever etched in stone. They can change at the drop of a hat if there is a new spike in cases and officials decide to implement stricter mitigation policies.
The Key to Parenting Plans During COVID-19: Flexibility
Every parenting situation is different. In many families, both parents work at least some of the time to provide for their children, while there are still some in which only one parent works. The distance between the two separated or divorced parents can vary widely as well. Some parents live in the same neighborhood or at least the same town, while others live a significant distance from each other.
All of these and other specific factors need to go into creating a parenting plan that works for everyone. And one of the key pieces of information that all those involved need to know is the school schedule. Knowing when your child gets on the bus or gets dropped off to school and when they come home is critical to planning the rest of the day, and for parents in particular, knowing what hours they can work.
These days, there are many occupations in which a parent can work from home, and a lot of parents were able to do that last spring when all of the schools were switched to distance learning. But there are still a good number of jobs that require an employee to be on-site.
With all of this going on, parents who are trying to work out a viable plan need to be patient, understanding, and perhaps most importantly, flexible. It is understandable that you may be frustrated with the situation. We all hoped that the schedule disruptions created by COVID-19 would be temporary and that by now, we would have been able to go back to our normal lives.
As time has gone on, however, it has become apparent that this virus is not likely to go away completely and another wave could hit us again when the weather gets colder. It could be that things will not really be able to get back to normal until we have a vaccine, which will hopefully be sooner rather than later.
In the meantime, parents just need to understand that we are all dealing with the same thing here, and we need to work together to get through this. If the school schedule throws you a curveball, you just need to get together with the other parent and figure out how to overcome it. There is no one-size-fits-all answer – you will need to develop a workable plan based on your own unique circumstances.
AMS Is Here to Help
If you and the other parent are having difficulty working out a parenting plan around your child’s school schedule, you are not alone. Countless parents are dealing with the same situation you are, and there is help available. Sometimes, the perspective of an outside professional can help parents overcome the barriers that are blocking them from coming up with a plan they can both agree to. And this is where mediation can often be a great solution.
At Advanced Mediation Solutions (AMS), we have several years of experience helping clients with all types of family-related issues. We have worked closely with numerous parents who have had difficulty developing workable parenting schedules on their own, and we are available to help you during this uncertain time.
We are currently offering extended hours, and we are set up to provide in-person or virtual mediation sessions, whatever you and the other participant are most comfortable with. Our initial consultations are free, and we are ready to get started whenever you need us. Get in touch with us today by messaging us online or calling our office at (856) 669-7172. We look forward to serving you!