There’s no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has changed and will continue to change our world. After spending months in lockdown, people are now turning their attention to the new school year. Whether you’re a parent, student, or employee, your school will look and feel very different this year. To make the transition more comfortable for you and your ohana, here are a few suggestions.

Keep an open mindset. Putting aside expectations based on past experiences may be an excellent way to start the school year. What was familiar or common practice may well be replaced by a revised or totally revamped plan of action. Remind yourself and your child that safety must come first in any communal space. Staying open to change can help us adjust and accept circumstances with grace and compassion.

Expect questions. As we venture into unchartered territories, how to best educate our children, families, and ourselves will raise many questions. That curiosity is where learning and adapting will take place for all parties. While the answers may not be apparent or may take time in coming, the journey is an opportunity for co-creating an education that serves the needs of child, parent, and educator alike.

Have honest conversations. Talk to your child about how school may look and feel different. No one knows exactly how the year will unfold. Virtual learning, shorter classes, smaller classrooms – educators are planning and preparing for a number of different scenarios. Ask your child if they have any concerns and listen to what they have to say. A safe and authentic space for discussion will help them process their fears and allow you to clear up any misconceptions they may have.

Stay in touch. Communicating with teachers, counselors and the school community at large may be more important than ever. Whether it’s a check-in with the nurse, advisor, or grade-level representative or consultation with the school chaplain, seek help when you need it. Open up a dialogue with adults who spend time with your child so you know what steps you can take to help ensure success and healthy growth.

While this school year may have many procedures that are unprecedented, being open to change, discussing concerns, and collaborating with our community can help ease fears or anxieties. The “new normal” may well hold the answer to a safe, nurturing community that serves everyone’s needs in the best possible way.