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Co-Parenting During the 2020/2021 School Year: How to Help Your Child Thrive

In a blog we wrote about the impact of COVID-19 on the US divorce rate, we discussed how COVID-19 has effectively monopolized 2020 for many Americans. As parents prepare for the 2020/2021 school year, it looks like that won't change anytime soon.

If you're engaged in a co-parenting relationship, understanding how to effectively navigate the 2020/2021 school year with your co-parent can help your child thrive, even in these uncertain times.

First Things First: Figure Out How Your District Plans to Handle COVID-19

You should work together with your co-parent to figure out how your school district plans to handle the COVID-19 pandemic.

For example, here in San Diego, many schools announced that children could attend school in-person starting September 1st. As long as counties can keep the infection-rate below a certain cutoff point (100 per 100,000 people or less) for two consecutive weeks, schools can stay open.

However, many schools are also providing online learning options for parents who don't feel comfortable having their child attend school in-person. In California, Los Angeles' and San Diego's biggest public school districts—representing around 825,000 students—announced they would be online-online during the fall.

In San Diego, students who choose to learn virtually attend online lessons four days a week, and use the fifth day to catch up on assignments. Students who choose virtual learning options also have the ability to partake in certain on-campus activities (such as science fairs) if they wish.

Visit school, county, and state websites to understand how schools in your area are handling the COVID-19 pandemic. Most school or state educational websites also have information on how parents can reduce the chance of their child contracting COVID-19 if they attend school in-person, which may be useful for parents.

Once you understand how schools in your area are tackling the pandemic, you can start creating a co-parenting plan for the 2020/2021 school year.

Tips For Handling the 2020/2021 School Year with a Co-Parent

If you're trying to figure out how to handle education in the era of COVID-19 with your co-parent, there are a few things you should do:

  • Decide whether you want your child to attend school in-person or online. This will be the biggest decision for most co-parents. If you can, try and present a unified front with your co-parent in this regard. If you and your co-parent disagree, you're setting yourself up for a year of fighting, which will be stressful for both you and your children. Some factors you should take into account when deciding whether you want your child to attend school online or in-person include:
    • Are you, your co-parent, your child, or anyone your child regularly interacts with immuno-compromised or at a high-risk of suffering severe side-effects if they contract COVID-19? If so, you may want to consider online schooling.
    • Are you or your co-parent working from home? If you are, you need to think about how that will interfere with your child's learning if they choose to attend school virtually.
    • How will you handle homework and other school activities if you pursue online learning? It will look different than helping your child while they attend school in-person.
  • Discuss what will happen if you (or your child) do end up contracting COVID-19. Coming up with a contingency plan now can save you time, stress, and money in the long run.
  • Keep tabs on what professionals are saying. You should be open to the idea of changing your stance as the school year progresses. For example, if cases shoot up after reopening, you may want to pursue virtual learning for your child. However, if it seems like your school is taking the correct precautions, and the children attending school are safe, having your child attend in-person may be an option.
  • Discuss it with your kid. Especially if your child is older, they're likely to have an opinion. Listening to what they have to say on the matter could provide you with a valuable alternative viewpoint.
  • Think about the specifics of your school. This is the last tips we'll leave you with. Bigger schools or those that have poor funding may have trouble providing students with a safe experience. Think about the specifics of your school before making any major decisions.

Negotiating with your parent until you reach a mutually beneficial arrangement both parties are happy with is ideal, but that's not an option for everyone. If your co-parent takes actions that you believe place your child in danger, you may need to take legal actions against them or pursue a custody order modification to help your child stay safe.

At Bremer Whyte Brown & O'Meara, we'll work with you to help you navigate your child custody case with confidence. Our custody lawyers have the experience necessary to help you protect your rights and achieve the best outcome for your child.

To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (949) 229-8546.