COVID-19: Co-Parenting Checklist for the Return to School

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Shows rows of yellow school busesThe question every parent is asking is, what’s going to happen with school in the fall of 2020?.

It’s hard to predict, but it’s essential to prepare.

Most of schools in the Rochester NY area have submitted their plans for school openings. The majority are proposing a system that alternates days physically spent at school with remote learning. This is referred to as a hybrid model.

Now parents have to update their own plans for education, supervision, and co-parenting.

It’s stressful for everyone, but divorce and children who live in two homes make it even more complicated. Divorce agreements did not envision COVID. Parents are scrambling to find workable solutions. Parents need to work together even more effectively now to help their kids learn and grow.

The Back-to-School Issues Complicated by COVID

Here is the summary of the issues as discussed in my 8/8/2020 WUHF-TV interview:

  • Parenting Plan: Most parenting plans until now only considered where children will be after school or day care. Now plans need to address where kids will learn during the day; how they will be supervised; and how they will get to and from school (busing, parent or caregiver pickup) and each parent’s home. In the spring of 2020, many parents were furloughed, so supervision was less of an issue. With more parents returning to work or working remotely, supervision is complicated.
  • Child Care: Child care options are quite limited now. All day options for preschoolers and wrap-around programs for school aged kids are less available. Parents are looking for child care providers who will come to a home (or alternate between the parents’ homes). These providers may also handle supervision and outdoor activities for children whose parents work from home. Previously, child care expenses were often quite small because kids were in school full-time. Now, supervision may be an added expense in a difficult economic time.
  • Child Support: Before COVID, parenting was pretty much about evenings and weekends. What might have been a 50:50 parenting plan is now quite different when children are at one house for most of the daytime hours. Expenses are different and child support might need to be reconsidered.
  • Quarantine and Illness: While parents have been concerned about illness and COVID risks, not many have had to quarantine due to exposure. If a class or school requires a quarantine, how will that affect the children, their parents, and other caregivers or arrangements? For more information on what NYS requires concerning quarantine, scroll down to the “Precautionary Quarantine Requirements” section on “NYS COVID-19 Travel Advisory” page

I encourage parents to discuss these issues as soon as possible. Prepare a parent/family response in advance so resolution is not urgent and emotional. As the COVID situation evolves, further changes may be needed.

Use My Checklist to Sort through the Issues

Each parent should download my CoParenting Checklist for Back-to-School During COVID. To use it, each parent:

  1. Thinks through the issues, making notes as needed.
  2. Fills out their own sample calendar on page 5.
  3. Shares their document and notes with the other parent. Also consider involving any other caregivers who may support the children.
  4. Reviews both documents. Then the parents discuss the issues, make decisions, and work out a schedule. This may take more than one call or meeting.

More COVID-related information is located at the top of the home page with many hints for divorce and parenting during these times.

Preparation is the key to successful co-parenting. That’s what keeps our children safe and helps them feel more secure and calm.

For more divorce topics covered by BJ Mann: BJ Mann Site Content Index

Photo credit: Photo by Juan Carlos Becerra on Unsplash

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