The good news is that children are allowed to continue with their education. The bad news is that restrictions are going to make things seem a little strange.
But with the right attitude we can take it in our stride. We lived through lockdown. We have seen the padlocked playgrounds and the silent streets. None of us wants a second lockdown and now that things are opening up it is important we grab our pleasures when we can. Although the children might be in smaller groups with added restrictions, richer experiences can emerge from this.
Lockdown forced many families to become content with less; even so, many of us had valuable experiences with our families that we would not have otherwise had. Likewise, although our holiday plans have been derailed, children are hanging out this summer in a way they simply hadn't the time to do in previous years. As a direct result of the cancelled plans, there is a leisurely sense of calmness to this summer. Children are playing with whoever they can, wherever they can, and they are - finally - making their own fun. Mental health professionals like myself have been advising for years that children were over-scheduled and overtired and needed to do less. Now that they are doing less, many are benefiting.
Although many people might say it's a tragedy the children can't go back to school like 'normal', on the other hand, many might feel better to have smaller groups and more in-depth relationships; large numbers of people can feel alienating for many. Anxious parents can be a drain on schools at the best of times and if anxiety isn't properly contained over the coming months everyone will suffer. Many people these days head straight to social media - and the parents' WhatsApp group - to find others who agree with them. Hysteria builds easily on these platforms and can cause an inordinate amount of strain on everyone.
What children don't need is to be told school will be awful and that the future looks grim.
Our role as parents is to make sure our children feel able to cope with life and - as long as their brains aren't filled with tension and fear from anxious adults - most children are pretty resilient. Confidence is directly linked to our estimation of our ability to cope and if you can imbue your children with inner confidence, you'll give them an invaluable gift that could last a lifetime.
For children to feel mentally able to go back to school, their parents need to help them to look forward to the joy that can be found in each day. In many ways we all need to take each day as it comes. The rules are changing and everyone is continually adjusting. School will be slightly different; there will be talk of class bubbles, pods and separate areas. But children are used to the weirdness by now; they know about washing their hands and keeping their distance from others. They can handle this.
During the worst days of World War II, Winston Churchill warned: "It's not enough that we do our best, sometimes we must do what's required." He realised that sometimes we have to dig really deep and do what is necessary. Although it is easy to spread anxiety and distress about this pandemic, it is more helpful if we can show our children cheerful forbearance in the face of adversity.