For the past year and a half, many of us have spoken about a “return to normal” or a “new normal” post-pandemic. Now that local districts are about to begin their 2021-2022 school year here in Indiana, it is time to see just what this “normal” brings to both students and our wider communities. 

The vaccine rollout, of course, has changed the mask mandate and opened up many businesses and events. Because children under 12 are still a vulnerable and unvaccinated population, however, there are still safety precautions that will be met all over Hancock County when returning to school.

Masks are optional for everyone, except while riding the school bus

The Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County and Greenfield-Central Schools plan to require masks while riding the school bus, as is mandated by the Center for Disease Control for all public transportation. When students arrive to school, however, masks become only recommended instead of required. Schools will be required to report positive cases, which have remained relatively low in Indiana despite the new Delta variant making its way across the country. 

Anyone who tests positive will be required to stay at home as well as anyone showing signs and symptoms of illness. Greenfield specifically mandates that awards and incentives for perfect attendance should be discontinued for the 2021-2022 school year so that students and staff don’t feel pressured to avoid staying at home when experiencing symptoms.

Hand washing and social distancing may still be practiced and are good etiquette anyways, especially once we get into cold and flu season. Heightened cleaning procedures will remain in order to keep schools clean and sanitary and water fountains will remain closed. Contact tracing will also still be prevalent. Greenfield-Central Schools will suggest that teachers use assigned seating in classrooms as well as the cafeteria in order to assist the staff with contact tracing. In all schools, the vaccine will remain a suggestion, not a requirement.

Some anxiety is normal during a new school year! 

Some returning students may feel nervous to be going back into the classroom or the return to business as usual. If your child is having a difficult time adjusting to our post-pandemic world, just know that they are not alone. Many children across the country (and the world for that matter) are going through the same thing. The anxiety and emotional stress of the pandemic took its toll on adults and kids alike, so giving each other grace and time to get reacquainted to everyday life can go a long way in ensuring everyone feels safe returning to school.

Getting back in the swing of things

If your child seems to be having a difficult time transitioning back to school as we near the end of summer, there are some things you can do to make it smoother for them as well as your whole family. First of all, stick with or start building good sleeping habits. Sleep makes young brains work better and can help with anxiety and stress as well as the immune system. Prioritize your child’s sleep by helping them to stay away from electronic devices 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. Getting enough exercise and eating a healthy diet can also contribute to better sleep at night.

Talking about all of the great things about school and helping your child to see the positive is another good way to work through fears. Are they excited to see friends? What about activities they love or are interested in participating in this year? Having a conversation about what is bothering them and then helping them to problem solve is another great way to teach them that they can turn the negative into a positive chance for growth this school year. 

We hope that all of the students, teachers, parents and staff in Hancock County have a great return to school and a wonderful, fun and safe 2021-2022 school year!