The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted parents, teachers, and students. The rapid sweep of coronavirus infections throughout the country forced schools to close abruptly back in April 2020.

Recently, the government has announced plans to reopen schools. The return to school is an important step, but it may be complicated. Students will have to adapt to a “new normal” for at least some time to come. Schools will need to modify their practices to ensure social distancing among teachers, staff, and students.

The Impact Of COVID-19 on the School System

The White House issued guidelines describing when it is safe for schools to reopen. For safety reasons, schools would have to make a lot of changes before opening up again. The authorities have also created social distancing plans to ensure students and teachers practice proper social distancing.

Social distancing practices in schools will be more complex than just spacing desks six feet apart. These rules will also discourage students from gathering in groups and students will have to consume lunch in class to avoid crowd forming in cafeterias.

Schools would implement more stringent guidelines that warn against hugging, handshaking, and holding hands. Students will also need to adhere to a combination of hygiene practices like wearing masks, handwashing, and disinfecting surfaces. Other activities such as hallway transitions; and potentially reduced schedules like half-days or shortened school weeks might become the norm.

For elementary schools, the challenge to keep small kids away from each other could be even greater. Nonetheless, schools would have to supervise six feet distance on the playground, space sleeping mats six feet or more, and cut back on allowing visitors into buildings.

These changes carry big implications for all involved. Schools will have to modify the required instructional hours per year, staffing, parents’ work schedules, and transportation practices. Students will also have to make mental changes which can cause further frustration and develop a low interest in school activities.

Students Struggling to Get Back Into “school mode”?

The pandemic affects students as well. When schools reopen, students will bring with them an incredibly high level of need. Students that may have fallen behind and need extra support to catch up on their learning, students may have difficulties coping with the new measures in school or, in the direst cases, students who have experienced trauma such as issues of housing access and food insecurity, grief, loss, heightened anxiety due to the pandemic and even abuse may show no interest in learning.

To meet these needs, schools should be prepared to offer a comprehensive set of services that address these problems and offer a wide array of supports to these students that will help them succeed in school.

Parents can help by creating a supportive and nurturing environment and respond positively to questions and expressions of their child(ren) feelings. Parents can reassure their child(ren) that it’s not only okay but normal, to feel frustrated or anxious at these uncertain times.

Final Thoughts

As schools are planning to reopen soon, students, teachers, and parents must accept and adhere to the “new normal” of post lockdown America. Schools will have to implement measures that might cause students to lose interest or fall behind in their studies. Parents and teachers can address the problem and offer needed support to help these students get back on track.

About the writer: Dr. Madeline Ann Lewis is President/CEO of the Executive Women’s Success Institute and creator of the online course “Crack the Career Code: How to Lead With Confidence, Charisma, and Credibility.” She’s a career strategist, coach, trainer, speaker, author, business consultant, and host of the “Success 4 Women Radio Show.” Contact her at Website: or Email:

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