Warning: School Zone Ahead

 Dori Shwirtz
September 8, 2020

Warning: School Zone Ahead

Dori Shwirtz

Back to school season can be stressful on its own. Throw in a global pandemic and divorce into the mix and it can get downright ugly. We are delving into uncharted waters with Covid and what we can and cannot do. There are many new issues that have arisen that nobody really considered or could have predicted.  But it doesn’t have to be so complicated. Here we break it down. 

The Basics

In non-apocalyptic times the beginning of the school year can be a pleasant time for co-parents. It’s an opportunity to refresh and start anew and get the parents on the same page regarding the wellbeing of their children. The kids have the best chance of thriving academically, socially and physically when the parents agree to work together and support their children. If they witness their parents collaborating together regarding their schooling it will give the children a feeling of worthiness. It sounds nice, right? But how exactly do you get there? 

The Parenting Plan

When I’m drafting parenting plans for my clients, I always bring up the school year and all it entails. Point out what your children’s goals are for the school year. When parents acknowledge that they both want their children to achieve those goals, working together is easier. Having four children myself I’m well aware of all the questions to ask and what to plan for. It’s imperative to have a plan that covers as many “what if’s” as possible.  

My best piece of advice is to commit to a schedule and stick to it as much as possible. Kids thrive on familiarity and predictability.  Try to create a roadmap of who will provide transportation, sync bedtimes for each household and work out a plan for extracurricular expenses. 

It’s important to designate your roles as well. Assign who will be responsible for checking homework and accessing the school portal of where the assignments are listed. Just because it’s not your night with the kids doesn’t mean you can’t still help with the math homework if that’s your strength. 

Yes, But Covid…

We are witnessing an unprecedented amount of uncertainty and stress with the school year due to Covid. But guess what? Kids are still kids. They will remember this time quite differently than their parents. No matter what decisions are made now, our kids will just remember that they felt loved and protected. Now is not the time to sweat the small stuff. 

An eye opener from the pandemic is that it’s in everybody’s best interest to solve any disagreements regarding your children’s schooling amongst yourselves. Even if you want the court to hear you out, many are closed because of Covid forcing parents to communicate and resolve things in real time. To say this is a good thing is an understatement. 

Additionally, even when you can get in to see a Judge, most of them have no idea how to handle the situation. There has never been anything like Covid so they don’t have precedent to rely on when making decisions. 

This time may be extra difficult because there may be real, genuine differences in how to approach schooling. If there’s an option-do you send the child to school or will they learn from home? And if they will learn from home, do both parents commit to being on standby to assist with any technical or educational assistance?

 If they go back to physical school will they be allowed to take the bus? Does either parent have an occupation such as a nurse that makes them high risk for exposure? Does the Child or parents have any underlying health conditions making them more vulnerable than the general population? 

Learning Experience

This coming school year will be a learning experience for the kids and their parents. Even with the additional challenges we are all facing, success is more than possible. With a little bit of proper planning and a dash of flexibility, the entire family may have one of the most meaningful years yet. 

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