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Back to School: Overcoming those first-day jitters

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 9:51 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Parents, students and staff are looking forward to the first day of school, but with COVID-19 cases rising and mask mandates now back in place for Anchorage students, it’s safe to say, some families and kids might have an extra helping of back-to-school jitters.

Jessica Williams, a counseling coordinator with the Anchorage School District, said that it’s perfectly okay and normal to feel that way. She added that we’re in this together and if parents have questions, chances are, the family next to you is thinking the exact same thing.

“Our school district staff personnel, they are aware of this and they feel that too. And they’re doing their very very best to make everybody feel comfortable about just coming back in, coming together and we will figure it out together,” Williams said. “They know that parents need to see that visibility of staff that’s outside greeting kids and just all of the kids that don’t know how to navigate the school. Just more teachers in the halls, the friendly faces just helping them find that next classroom. It will be beefed up more than ever.”

Williams said having the start of school begin on schedule this year is a big deal and this is what educators and staff prepare for.

“That’s what our teachers do for several weeks of the school year,” she said. “They just focus on safety, and social elements and just regular routine, and that really helps students loosen up and get into a natural flow of how things go. So just patience, open lines of communication with your kids.”

Williams also mentioned that the school district is seeing more anxious middle school- and high school-aged students, and explained what some of those kids might be going through and why.

“Some of our kids are coming in as 10th graders and they never had a chance to go to school as 9th graders, so really it’s their first day of high school all over again,” she said. “And then we’ve got 8th-grade students who spent their 7th-grade year at home and are now a middle schooler and they have one year in their buildings, and families are feeling like ... there’s a lot transition happening and uncertainty as to if their kids are socially ready having missed out on a year of just that kind of structured social time in their schools.”

That’s where guidance counselors come in. Every middle school and high school in the district, and most elementary schools, have them. Williams said parents should find out who that person is, and children should know they’re there and not just for course guidance.

“Reach out to teachers if you have any concerns and they will work with the guidance counselors as well,” Williams said. “Let them do what they’re great at and they are looking forward to having students back in the buildings, for sure.”

For families that need additional community resources, you can always call the Help Line at 311.

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