After a tumultuous 2020 with the advent of COVID-19 significantly changing how children across the country were educated, as we move toward the 2021/2022 school year, many co-parents may be understandably concerned for the year ahead of them.
Whether your child's school is reopening for in-person attendance or sticking with an e-learning program, knowing how to effectively approach the upcoming school year can help them - and you - have a stress-free academic life.
Talk with Your Co-Parent About Adjusting Custody Guidelines
In 2020, many co-parents drastically changed their custody schedules to reflect the changes the world was undergoing in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tens of millions of Americans lost their jobs last year or found themselves transitioning to work-from-home (WFH) environments. Many essential workers who continued working on the frontlines of the pandemic found themselves suddenly at risk of bringing home a dangerous virus to their children.
As if all that wasn't enough, schools across the country closed in response to the pandemic, implementing e-learning programs so children could learn at home instead of going to school in person and risking contracting the virus.
As a result of these changes, many co-parents completely changed their custody schedules. Some essential workers gave complete custody to their co-parents to reduce their chances of transmitting the virus to their children. In other cases, parents found themselves splitting custody more equitably, as having both parents working from home meant parents who were previously unable to house their child during the workweek could take advantage of their new schedule to spend more time with their kids.
Whatever the case, if you changed how you approached custody in the last year, it may be worth going over those changes with your spouse and evaluating those custody changes yet again. Making new adjustments with the assumption your child will be spending around eight hours at school during the week could help you find a custody arrangement that suits your needs more accurately than whatever setup you currently have.
Expect Children to Struggle Readjusting
One of the major concerns about e-learning programs levied by many academic professionals was that children could have a harder time readjusting to in-person schooling once schools reopened. Teachers worried that some e-learning programs wouldn't adequately educate children. Variances in the quality of e-learning programs across the country due to factors such as what technology children have access to only exacerbated those concerns.
Returning to school could be a big change for your children, especially if they acclimated to learning from home fairly easily or are young. While some children may be happy to get back in the classroom and see their friends again, others could find the experience stressful or overwhelming.
Come up with a plan with your co-parent to handle your child's reintegration into attending school. Discuss how you'll handle it if they appear to be falling behind academically or struggling to make friends as they reacclimate to school life and work. Consulting an academic professional, such as a tutor, or talking with your child's teachers may be helpful.
Expecting something of a rough landing as your child readjusts to attending school can help smooth out bumps in the road when you do encounter them.
Talk About How You Want to Handle Vacations & Travel
Although the release of COVID-19 vaccines and testing for those vaccines for children 12 and under may make travel safer, with the surge of the Delta variant, many co-parents may be understandably leery about having their children travel during the school year.
To head off any problems before they arise, you should discuss travel with your co-parent before the school year begins. Talk about whether you're comfortable with the prospect of your child taking a vacation or flying during school breaks. If so, discuss what safety measures you'll want to put in place to ensure they remain safe and healthy.
Discussing these issues if you share a difference of opinion with your co-parent is vital. The last thing you want is for your child to get dragged into a dispute over how they should spend their break.
At Letterio & Haug, LLP, we'll help you identify and pursue the best path forward in your custody dispute. To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (845) 203-0997.