How to Manage “Big Feelings” Around School Re-Opening

By Lietz Elementary Project Cornerstone Team

The air feels thick with anticipation as we approach the re-opening of school campuses. No matter what choice your family made about returning to campus, we have confidence that you made the best choice for your family given your situation, your knowledge and your values. Transitions are often stressful and this document was created by the Project Cornerstone team to serve as a general guide to making space for “the Big Feelings” students might be dealing with in the coming weeks.

Situation Talking Points Validating Feelings & Meeting Needs
Your child is remote learning, but their friends are going back to campus.


Your child is back on campus, but their friends are staying remote.

  • How does your child feel about it?
  • What does your child understand about your decision to return to campus/stay remote?
  • “I understand you are feeling sad, lonely, left out.”
  • ” Every family had to choose what was best for them.”
  • Explore other ways to facilitate friendships
Wearing a mask for the entire duration at school.
  • Do they understand why they need to be wearing a mask?
  • Masks help keep everyone safe.
  • Focus on the positives of being in-person.
  • ” I understand that wearing a mask is hard.”
  • Identify when they can take it off and take breaks.
  • Practice wearing masks and building physical tolerance for them.
Child afraid of getting COVID or getting someone else sick. Child is concerned about physical contact with others.
  • Review school’s safety protocols and make sure you both understand them.
  • Identify where child has control (i.e., obeying protocols, being responsible, limiting contact)
  • Discuss how scientists and doctors are helping create these protocols.
  • “The virus is scary, and things are uncertain.”
  • “There are many things we can do to help keep everyone safe”
  • ”The school is taking every precaution”
  • ”We can show we care for others with ‘air hugs.’”
  • “This will end eventually.”
Your child has to switch teachers.
  • Discuss what is “grief”
  • Discuss why they think this is happening.
  • Identify the challenges the school faced in placing everyone.
  • ”It is so sad to not be with your teacher.”
  • ”Your teacher will miss you too.”
  • “The teachers prioritized keeping their students and the change was not personal.”