Checklist for Back-to-Remote-School Preparedness

It’s hard to believe that a few short months ago, we had a glimpse of post-COVID normalcy.

High school students and their families had every reason to believe that after a chaotic year of remote and hybrid learning, they’d finally be returning to the classroom for good.

But as we’ve all seen in the past few weeks, the pandemic isn’t finished with us yet. Some schools are forging ahead with in-person learning, while others have already reversed course to remote learning amid the latest surge.

No matter which side of the fence your student’s school is on, one thing remains clear: students are facing yet another year of pandemic uncertainty.

There are so many variables and unknowns that it’s crucial to be ready for whatever happens next. That’s why we’re encouraging students and parents to plan ahead and mentally prepare for what may be a sudden transition from in-person back to remote learning.

5 Ways to Smooth the Transition from In-Person to Remote Learning

Here are five ways to ensure a smooth transition to online school if or when the time comes:

  • Create a quiet study space. If your student already has an at-home setup from the previous year of remote learning, keep it. If they don’t, create one so it’s ready when they may need it. Consider factors like light, sound, and general distractions that can impact a student’s ability to concentrate. Your student might choose to study near a window to be able to view some greenery, or they may need a pair of noise-cancelling headphones to minimize outside noise. Help your student create an ideal learning space personalized to their preferences. Even if they don’t end up needing this space for online school, they can still get good use out of it for homework and test prep.
  • Establish consistent routines. Having consistent routines is a great way to regain control during turbulent times. Encourage your student to establish routines now that they can continue to follow if they go remote again. That way, the routines will already feel like second nature when they need them most. We recommend a standard set of routines for students: morning, school day, homework, and evening. Simple things like waking up at the same time every morning, starting online school work at the same time each day, and winding down without the distraction of a phone before bed can help students structure their time and know what to expect from one day to the next.
  • Get organized. The ability to be organized is a crucial part of academic success. It’s hard enough for students to stay organized during “normal” times—and even harder when school and home life begin to blend during remote learning. To stay on track amid inevitable distractions, we recommend that students keep a written record of their schedule and assignments. Whether your student uses a paper or digital system, make sure it’s comprehensive enough to include a calendar feature and a task feature. Each morning, they should review their calendar and prioritize their tasks so they know what needs to happen.
  • Take regular breaks. Despite what current cultural norms indicate, taking breaks is a natural part of the process of living. Breaks allow our bodies and minds the rest they need to continue operating at their highest levels. During challenging times, it’s especially important for students to allow themselves the privilege of regular breaks. Having to stare at a screen all day for online school only compounds any mental exhaustion students are already likely to be feeling. Encourage your student to build hourly and daily breaks into their schedule as a time to unplug, move around a bit, and enjoy their surroundings.
  • Ask for help. Those of us who were once high schoolers ourselves can certainly recall just how stressful and challenging a time it was on many different fronts. And that was without having to deal with the repercussions of a seemingly endless pandemic. Today’s high schoolers have been through a lot in these past couple of years. Their resilience is remarkable, but it’s to be expected that they may need a little extra support to make it through these tough times. Students who find themselves struggling to adapt to another phase of remote learning may benefit significantly from additional help, such as a school counselor or academic coach. The right academic coach can guide students through staying organized, managing their time, and improving their executive function skills so they can not only survive, but thrive in a remote learning environment.

All of us at Signet are sending you our very best as your family begins this school year. If there’s any way we can help support you, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Picture of Sheila A.

Sheila A.

Sheila Akbar is President & COO of Signet Education. She holds a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Harvard University and two doctoral degrees from Indiana University. She joined the team in the summer of 2010, bringing with her a wealth of experience teaching SAT, ACT, GRE, literature, and composition in both one-on-one and classroom settings.

More Resources