For many in the US, Labor Day marks the end of summer, and school is about to start or has already started. We all struggled adapting to trying to work from home with children adapting to virtual learning from home, and this fall is likely to prove even more chaotic. While many countries have (at least for now) the pandemic under control, infection continues to rage across America, so back-to-school plans vary wildly from state to state and from school to school.
As a working parent, I want to ask all of you to cut each other some slack. This is going to get messy, and I wanted to put out some ideas on how we can make life easier for each other (your thoughts welcome below in the comments).
First, be flexible in scheduling. Class schedules and whether students are in school or at home are going to change a lot over the next few weeks/months. People may not be able to attend meetings at some times and may need to drop out as situations change. Do what you can to be flexible and move things around to include your important personnel.
On top of that, it makes sense to record the proceedings of meetings, either by sending around summary notes or simply by recording the entire meeting (relatively easy to do when using Zoom, Teams, or whatever videoconferencing software you’re using). This lets others catch up on what they’ve missed when they have time available.
In those virtual meetings, make sure it is clear that having your video turned off is perfectly acceptable as needed. Many parents may need to multitask and be preparing a lunch or snack during meeting times, or worse yet, have a child melting down in the background. Leaving a camera off can at least let those parents remain aware of what’s being discussed.
Similarly, have someone monitor the chat function in any virtual meetings. For parents, it’s often easier to communicate by text than by voice, again allowing one to participate in the discussion without sharing that screaming meltdown that may be happening at the same time.
In general, parents are going to be working when they can, often at odd hours, so be as patient as possible when expecting replies to your messages. Parents — consider putting up an out-of-office notice for the hours where you know you won’t be available.
September has suddenly crept up on us in this timeless time, and to quote the great Joey Ramone, “Things sure have changed since we got kicked out of high school.” Fun fun. We’re off until Tuesday.