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Expert advice for navigating the stress surrounding school re-entry

March 1 is when the governor wants to see schools re-opened. For parents, it's a stressful time.

Valerie Anderson is looking forward to when her oldest daughter, a fourth-grader, can return to the classroom.

“Stress levels have been very, very high, trying to manage work and homeschooling at the same time,” Anderson said.

Anderson’s story is a familiar one to so many working parents.

“My work priorities haven’t changed, and I still have to make sure she gets her work done,” she said. “And being a younger child, you know they don’t just work on their own. I can’t say, ‘go log into your school work and be done.’ I have to help her.”

Governor Mike DeWine has made it clear that his hope is schools re-open to in-person learning by March 1.

Anderson believes her stress will ease when her daughter can go back to school full-time, and she hopes that happens by next month.

However, getting back into the swing of things will be an adjustment for both students and parents after spending nearly a year learning and working from home.

When preparing for school re-entry, it’s important to manage your stress levels. That’s according to Dr. Megan Schabbing, System Medical Director of Psychiatric Medical Services at OhioHealth.

“First and foremost as a parent you have to manage your own anxiety before you can manage your kids’ anxiety,” Dr. Schabbing said.

She said first, you should carve out time, even twenty minutes, to do something for yourself every day.

“For some people it is exercise, yoga, meditation. [For] other people it’s just like picking up the phone and venting to somebody,” she explained.

Then, you need to keep in check with how your child is feeling.

“’Hey how are you feeling about getting back to school full time? Is there anything on your mind worrying you?’”

Dr. Schabbing said there are a few more important things to keep in mind and that is to give yourself a break, remember to look out for one another, and take note of warning signs for anxiety or depression.

If you notice you or your child aren’t sleeping or enjoying the things you used to enjoy, seek medical help right away from your primary care doctor or your pediatrician.

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