OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Now that many students have transitioned back into school buildings, leaders in the Osceola County school district warn parents they may need time to adjust.
“With them going back into the traditional classroom now, of course, there’s still that level of fear and concern,” Angela Mikolajek, a paren in the district said.
Parents said they want to make sure their children will be safe and healthy while learning.
“For my younger children in elementary school who are not yet vaccinated, I will make sure the mask stays in place for them right now,” Mikolajek said.
District staff is advising families that COVID-19 safety should not be the only topic of conversation before sending kids back to school.
“We are expecting some nerves… some adjustment to being around people again, being in the classroom, some anxiety,” Toni Rapinesi, the supervisor of social services in the school district said.
She expects students will be anxious this school year. For months, kids were limited to socializing through computer screens and lacked familiar structure.
“Children need structure and sometimes when they don’t have that structure getting back into that routine will causing some anxiety,” she said.
She added social workers, psychologists and school counselors are prepared to help students cope and adjust to coming back. Rapinesi also suggested ways parents can prepare their kids.
“Parents need to talk to their kids about their feelings, let them express how they’re feeling,” she said.
District leaders are encouraging parents to be their kids’ role models and discuss how they can ease back into interacting and socializing with people outside of their family.
Some students like Angela Mikolajek’s son, Jase Mikolajek, are excited to return. He said he did not like virtual learning and insisted hands-on learning in person is better than being taught through a computer screen.
“I think it’s better if we’re in a class together instead,” Jase Mikolajek said.
Besides tangible worksheets, Jase Mikolajek said one thing he missed the most was having fun with his classmates.
“I like having a social interaction with people,” he said.
Rapinesi emphasizes the importance of socialization.
“They seem to do better academically also when they interact in person,” she said.
Angela Mikolajek’s agrees.
“I certainly believe if all the tools are being executed to keep the students safe then being in the classroom where they have that face-to-face interaction with their teachers and their peers is best,” she said.
Osceola County Schools staff assure parents they have regulations in place to keep students safe from the spread of COVID-19. They will also do everything they can to make students feel comfortable during the transition. However, district officials say preparation should start at home.