Governor Cooper has announced that North Carolina public schools will be open for both in-person and remote learning during the 2020-2021 school year. This leaves parents with important decisions about how they want to educate their children.

If you have opted to have your child attend school in person this fall, it can be helpful for you and your co-parent to get on the same page about how to reinforce safe habits at home – in order to prepare your child for the new behavioral expectations they’ll face at school.

Face masks

All children and school staff will be required to wear face masks throughout the day. For young children, this may take some getting used to. Practice at home with your child and teach them how to wear the mask properly – i.e., covering both their nose and mouth. Explain to them that they’ll have to wear it all day long when they’re at school.

Temperature checks

North Carolina schools are requiring all children to have temperature checks before entering school each day. This is a means of preventing the spread of infection to others in the school. If your child is splitting their time between each parent’s house, you and your co-parent may also consider administering temperature checks each time you transport your child from one house to the other. This can also help reduce the risk of infection in each household.

Six-foot distance

For the average adult, it is relatively easy to approximate a six-foot distance between yourself and someone else. But for a small child, this may be a newer concept. There are a variety of ways to teach your kids about six-foot social distancing. For example, you and your child can go around the house together with a measuring tape and find familiar items that are six feet long (couch, bed, etc.).

Hand washing

While your kids are probably very accustomed to washing their hands, now is the time to teach them how to do it effectively. Get them in the habit of always using soap and scrubbing all over the hands – front and back, between the fingers and underneath the fingernails. Teach them to wash for 20 seconds each time – by singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.

Bad habits

Many small children have a habit of regularly touching their face – putting their fingers in their mouth, nose and eyes. This type of behavior can be especially dangerous in a public space during a pandemic. You and your co-parent can work with your child to break them of these habits in school.


In all likelihood, your child is going to be very excited to be reunited with their friends at school. It is natural for them to want to engage closely with their friends – by hugging or high-fiving. You and your co-parent should talk to your child about why they can’t do such things this year.

This school year will be unlike any other. There will be a lot of additional stressors to adapt to. Partnering with your co-parent during this process and coming up with a game plan together can be enormously helpful.