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How many times have we heard it said that “these are unprecedented times?” That statement may have provided some comfort at the start of the pandemic, but it is time to face the reality that the chaos families are experiencing is here to stay.

This year, back-to-school season fills us with anxieties about the safety of our children and their prospects for academic progress. Americans are obsessed with viewing everything as a television show that cathartically wraps up in a nice, little bow at the end of the scheduled 30 minutes. Yet, tough times in the real world require us to admit tough truths. For instance, the pandemic we’re living through does not have an expiration date. We have to stop acting as if the coronavirus will disappear just because we desperately want to get back to normal. It won’t.

Let’s do the adult thing and face facts. Studies show the pandemic has demolished children’s reading and math scores as well as their mental health. I haven’t seen a clear fix that fits every family’s needs, but I do know that if we're paralyzed by how awful it all is, we won’t be able to save our children. They need us to model what it looks like to stand strong when the world makes us weak.

I have a few suggestions to help not only protect our kids in school but provide solace as we navigate problems we’ve never seen in our lifetime.