WALLKILL, NY —“I have a lot of anxiety!” said Jamie, whose daughters, Juliana and Jocie, are going back to school in Salem, New Hampshire this year.

The beginning of every school year brings a level of nervousness for most families, but this school year has added concerns. John, the girls’ dad, and Jamie have worked hard over the last year and a half to keep everyone they love safe.

Now it’s time for their two daughters to start in-person learning full-time. “Every day I wonder, will this be the day one of the girls brings home the virus,” said Jamie. John also worries if the extra precautions they take for their family’s physical health will have a negative impact on the girls’ emotional health.

These children, like many across the country, spent the last school year in a virtual classroom interacting with other students and teachers only via a computer screen. Going back to in-person learning with potential restrictions only added to their anxiety

“As students prepare to return, they will be facing a host of intensified challenges,” said Anthious Boone, an elementary school principal in Pennsylvania. He cited mask-wearing and learning how to socialize again with peers as some of these challenges.

But parents can help prepare their children for what may be a tough transition.

“As parents endeavor to help their children cope with potential back-to-school anxiety,” Boone said, “it is absolutely imperative that they stay well-connected with both the school and their children.

Juliana faced another transition this year, starting middle school in a new building. To deal with the potential stresses, she turned to her favorite video on jw.org, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses, about a girl who faced challenges that required courage, “I could relate to her,” said Juliana. She and her younger sister Jocie, prepared for the social transition of returning to in-person learning by watching the video “What’s a Real Friend?”.

John and Jamie work as a team to deal with this new phase of the pandemic. One priority is to keep good communication with their daughter’s teachers about their concerns.

They also closely monitor the amount of COVID-19 cases in their area. “If the numbers rise to an amount that we are not comfortable with, we may need to switch back to online schooling, there’s a lot to navigate, and we are taking it one day at a time,” said John.

Part of the family’s coping strategy includes singing uplifting songs together before bed. “Sometimes we end up singing longer than expected because it’s so fun,” said Jamie.

For more information, please contact Jehovah’s Witnesses United States at 718-560-5600 or pid@jw.org.

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