“Will my teacher be nice?” “Who will I hang out with?” “Are my clothes okay?” The start of school is always fraught with uncertainty, but this year’s back to school time is unlike any other.
With the start of this school year, there are lots of other questions, big questions: “Will my child be safe?” “Will the teacher really be able to keep the kids apart?” “Is it still okay for my child to visit their grandmother?” “Will the school stay open?” Uncertainty hangs in the air like the smoke from the wildfires raging in California these days.
We surveyed parents in the US and Canada using our Maru/HUB proprietary technology and found just 4 in 10 parents are comfortable sending their children back to school. And when they send them, their backpacks will be packed a little differently. In addition to books, pencils and yesterday’s squished sandwich, backpacks will be carrying masks, disinfectant, packaging that is easy to wipe down and more homemade lunches. In addition to math, there will also be lessons in safety precautions. More children will skip the bus and get driven to school, and fewer will be engaged in after school activities. This Fall feels decidedly different for both parents and kids.
A different kind of play
The changes will even extend to the thing kids enjoy most about school: seeing their friends. Six in 10 parents expect the way their children interact with their friends will be different, and another one in five just are not sure what will happen.
Of those parents who expect change in how their children interact with friends, 6 in 10 are thinking their child will be wearing a mask with friends and a similar number expect to keep interactions to just a select few friends. Roughly half expect play to be socially distanced and a similar number intend for play to be outdoors. Half are also expecting virtual play dates and virtual birthday parties. Child’s play will be different in this pandemic time.
But the same kind of spending
One thing that will not change much is parent’s spending on most back to school supplies. For the most part, parents are expecting to spend pretty much the same on the basics like shoes, clothes, backpacks, and school supplies. A few expect to spend a little more, and some expect to spend a little less. But most think their spending will be unchanged: except when it comes to health. Many expect to spend more on masks, hand sanitizer and wipes.
Fall is in the air and so is the uncertainty
As Summer turns to Fall and children return to the classroom many parents are sending their children back with anxiety in their hearts, and uncertainty on their minds. No one knows exactly how this return to school will play out. But one thing is certain: this is a back to school season unlike any other.