FERNDALE — Back-to-school supplies were a bit different this year for the Mewett family.
Like many students across the country, Ferndale residents Sydney and Kyla Mewett spent much of the last school year in a virtual classroom interacting with other students and teachers only via a computer screen.
This year, their parents, Scott and Janet, made sure the girls were equipped to return to their middle and high schools with hand sanitizer, masks and disinfectant wipes.
Both girls look forward to a return to in-person schooling.
“I don’t like distance learning,” said 12-year-old Kyla, a seventh grader at Vista Middle School. Her sister, 16-year-old Sydney, agreed.
“I like being able to be in a classroom,” said Sydney, a junior at Ferndale High School.
“I’m able to ask questions and have a full-on conversation.”
Despite her daughters’ excitement for in-person learning, Janet said she felt some anxiety due to COVID-19.
“I was nervous, but I was also happy that they were going back,” she said. “There’s so many things that are missing when you have it on a screen versus being in person.”
Anthious Boone, an elementary school principal in Pennsylvania, said, “As students prepare to return, they will be facing a host of intensified challenges.”
He cited mask-wearing and learning how to socialize again with peers as some of these challenges.
But parents can help prepare their children for what may be a tough transition.
“As parents endeavor to help their children cope with potential back-to-school anxiety,” Boone said, “it is absolutely imperative that they stay well-connected with both the school and their children.”
The Mewett parents try to set a good example for their daughters by closely following safety protocols themselves, such as wearing masks and sanitizing their home regularly. They also make themselves available to talk to their girls about anything that is on their minds.
As Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mewetts look for practical Bible-based advice to help with their daughters’ issues and concerns. “That usually launches into other discussions,” Scott explained. “How they’re feeling about certain things or other topics will come up that are kind of important at the time.”
While coronavirus variants have stoked pandemic anxieties, the Mewetts have endeavored not to overlook other challenges their daughters may face.
One of their favorite resources is jw.org, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses that is free to all. Topics like “What’s a Real Friend?” and “Beat a Bully Without Using Your Fists” are addressed there in a video series for young people.
The Mewett family takes full advantage of the resources provided on jw.org, including updates and reminders on how to deal with the pandemic.
Sydney said she really appreciates the information and encouragement that has helped prepare her to return to the classroom.
-- This story was provided by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, USA, public information.