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The beginning of every school year comes with a degree of uncertainty for students. This year Nolen and Kellen faced additional concerns as they prepared for the new year in the Syracuse City School District. “Going to a new school, I don’t know who is going to be there and what I am going to experience,” said Nolen, “I don’t know how seriously the kids will take COVID-19.”
Nolen and Kellen, 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.
“For some children the pandemic has disrupted several school years in a row,” said Megan Johnson, an elementary school teacher in Onondaga County. “Children haven’t been in a normal school environment and that has taken a toll on the social-emotional well-being of the kids.”
But parents can help prepare their children for what may be a tough transition if they maintain good communication with their children and the school. “This school year presents different challenges,” Johnson said. “Teachers want parents to feel like they can have all their questions answered.”
As Kevin and Shawna prepared their sons to go back to school they focused on specific issues their sons would be presented with. Monday mornings and Thursday evenings are set aside as family time. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, they look for practical Bible-based advice to help with any issues or concerns.
While coronavirus variants have stoked pandemic anxieties, Kevin and Shawna have endeavored not to overlook other challenges their sons may face.
One of their favorite resources is jw.org, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses that is free to all. Topics like “Stand Up to Peer Pressure!” and “Who’s in Control-You or Your Devices?” are addressed there in a video series for young people that the twins recommend to everyone.
“We feel our family gets the most benefit from the experiences on the website of other young ones who talk about challenges they faced and how they were able to overcome them,” said Kevin.
“The website is very good because if you have a question about something, you can just search for it,” said Nolen.
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