Thought Leadership

BACK TO SCHOOL IN THE TIME
OF COVID-19

Sophia Arconti
Account Director
August 27th, 2020

You’ve already heard this:

Parenting is hard, and getting your children ready for “back to school” can be one of the harder parts.

You’ve also already heard this:

Covid-19 has changed everything.

Back to school used to mean deciding between Up & Up or Ticonderoga pencils, basics from Old Navy or the (child requested) trendy cropped sweaters from Pac Sun. And there was usually the “controversial” request that got some parents fired up –do we really need to buy all those tissues and disinfectant wipes for the classroom even though we’ve already paid a classroom fee for the year? (In a year of “rebellion” I opted not to buy them, and then of course felt horrible about that decision later and atoned by buying an overabundance of aforementioned pencils.)

This year, however, many parents across the country are finding themselves with the hardest back to school decision: Do we actually send our children physically back
to classrooms?

Many parents are being asked to choose: send their children physically back to school in order to allow them interaction with other kids; leverage remote learning so they can stay home and limit exposure to covid-19; or go with a hybrid approach with some days in school and others at home.  A dramatic shift for parents on the kinds of worries for that this time of year usually brings.

I feel fortunate that my school district made the decision for me—all remote learning for the foreseeable future. Worth noting—I have a teenager who can navigate remote learning sessions and I’m able to work remotely. I would be under a different kind of pressure and stress if I had an elementary aged student or had to physically go into the studio every day. So I feel fortunate in more ways than one.

With the district decision made, how does this impact my back to school shopping?

What used to be me running through Target trying to get all the supplies before they sold out (where do all those graph paper notebooks go?) turned instead into a quest to “make this year feel normal.” I completely skipped the back to school section—even if school were in person, I no longer needed the crayons, markers or glue sticks from the younger elementary days, nor did I need the typical staples (pens, paper and pencils) since most everything is done on a school-issued Chromebook.

What I didn’t skip were the items that are part of a “normal” school year in my house—almost all of which ended up being food. School may be remote, but knowing how much my teen likes sleep, there may still need to be quick breakfasts. There is still only a half hour break for lunch, and there will undoubtedly be the need for after school snacks. Because I haven’t slowly strolled the aisles in a store since the pandemic started, I’ve done what I’m now used to: make a list. So, who made the cut? Our usual school year quick breakfasts—Nature Value Biscuits and Yoplait Oui yogurt (the splurge). For lunch—Good & Gather cheese, more cheese, and even more cheese; Sara Lee Artesano bread; and Angie’s Boomchickapop popcorn. For snacks—Kettle Salt and Vinegar chips, Jif peanut butter, and Mission tortillas—any of which could also make their way into lunch. (Don’t worry – I also buy plenty of fruit and vegetables.)

These are some of the brands that have proven to be reliable, trustworthy and delicious. Brands that are in the heads and hearts of my family. Brands that have stood by us through first days, sick days, field trips and now a pandemic.

There may not be a school supply list this year and there aren’t any classroom requests (even if I wanted to buy disinfectant wipes this year, I wouldn’t be able to—I’ve only been able to get my hands on 2 canisters in the past 5 months), but that feeling of angst that occurs when back to school rolls around is still there. To combat that angst, I’m not rebelling against tissues this year, I’m rebelling against Covid-19 itself. Making life “normal” despite it, relying strongly on the brands that make our lives easier, more comforting, a bit more stable in an uncertain world. Even though there won’t be in person school, I can guarantee there will still be PB&J sandwiches. That choice is one of the easier parts of parenting, and a part that luckily Covid-19 won’t change at my house.

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