anxious about 2 year old's preschool transition during pandemic

Are there other parents out there who are worried about how their child's new preschool will be handling the preschool transition, given social distancing guidelines? Our child's preschool, which we enrolled him in many months ago, is being fastidious about keeping class size small, having teachers wear masks, sanitizing, etc. My anxiety is *not due to concern about infection*. 

I'm anxious about how my son will react to being dropped off at a school where all the adults are wearing masks, where they may not allow me or his father to enter the room, let alone stay for a few hours, and where the caregivers may not be physically comforting distressed children, and where children will be encouraged to keep a distance from one another. This all sounds really dystopic to me and I'm worried about how my son will be able to adjust to this kind of situation. 

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I'm having the same anxities. The transition is hard no matter what, but is definitely heightened now. It might be worth getting some pictures of the preschool teachers with masks on and off and having him learn their names, and also to have your kid see you wear a mask regularly so it seems normal. Oof.

Hi! My daughter is 2.5 and returned to preschool a couple months ago (when they opened).  I had similar concerns - not about contracting the virus but the new "norm".  I'll be honest, I haven't noticed a difference with her at all.  The preschool teachers are so caring and she loves the outside playtime and interaction with other children.  It's amazing how resilient children are. However, note that kids usually have a hard time with the preschool transition in general.  It took my daughter about a week so that is normal and shouldn't be confused with the whole mask thing.   

Hi! I am actually in the exact situation that you are in. I plan on moving our child to the waitlist and reevaluate closer to January. My child has only been cared for at home, so I had the very very exact concerns you do. Aside from those concerns, something else I kept in mind was how the school responded to initial closures and how they handled tuition. My particular school had interactive zoom meetings and YouTube videos of teacher doing lessons, and asked parents to continue paying tuition with different tiers depending on your situation (although the tuition being asked was still significant). All of this might sound great...if you had an older child but for 2s-3s with short attention spans, it does not seem worth the tuition they are asking. With the current raise in Covid cases and the predicted surge during flu season, I feel like we’re looking at another school closures.

Hi there! Is this his first time in daycare/full time care outside of the home? I can't speak to your school or how your son will react but we switched our son's school and he started a new one last week. He's doing great and just as happy as can be to be around kids again. The school had him visit before, just us, him, and the teachers, so he was introduced to the space. Yes, the drop off is brief: we wash our hands, go inside, they take his temp while we sign him in, and then we say good bye. He's done just fine with it, whereas at his old schools, where we could linger, it was a diaster 50% of the time. The teachers are all wearing masks, and yes, they are teaching/encouraging social distancing, but they're two and three year olds so you know, they're still playing together, sharing things, and having fun. The teachers are still loving and caring. They're not touching just to touch, but they will certainly comfort a child if they need to. I was worried after 19 weeks at home how it would go to be back at school, in a new environment, with new people, and new teachers. Kids are so adaptable! Honestly it was harder for me than it was for him! We talked a lot about it in the weeks leading up to him starting. "You're starting a new school in a couple weeks! What are you most excited about?" "Won't it be so great to play with kids again?" "What do you think you'll do at your new school?" All of these were great ways to get him excited and looking forward to going. Does the school have a google photo album that they're able to share with you so that you can show him pictures of what he'll be doing? Has there been any conversations with the school about setting up a time to visit so he's been in the space? It might be a rough week, but you'll make it through and everyone will do great! Good luck! 

My son is scheduled to start mid-August and I could have written this exact email. I too am very concerned about just dropping my son off to a basically empty room with socially distanced playing. The preschool he's going to has agreed to arrange a one-on-one meetings with me, my son, and the teacher (I'm not sure exactly how that will work, maybe I'll stand across the room or something) and also some times where we can visit the outside playground outside of school hours. Maybe that's something that your preschool would be willing to do? I wish I had better suggestions for you.

Yes, I am definitely with you here. Our son is 2.5 and had been in a nanny share pre-Covid, and with mom/dad and grandparents during Covid. We were planning to transition him to a preschool this fall. The school is taking all the right safety precautions and I am confident that they are doing the best they can to limit risk BUT I am very concerned about having our son's first "school" experience be with masks and no touching and encouragement for distanced play, etc. I am seriously considering waiting until next year to start when he is 3.5 (with my fingers crossed that things will be closer to normal by that point). We sought out a preschool that had an especially nurturing/homey vibe since our son had been at home up until now and I'm starting to feel like the benefits of sending him (more social time and some structured learning activities) are not really outweighing the risk of exposure and the weirdness/dystopian part that you bring up. I change my mind almost daily on what to do, but I think I am leaning toward keeping him home until next fall.

My son started in June just after he turned two and the transition has been absolutely fine. He isn't bothered by the masks. The school sent everyone pictures of the staff before all the kids came back showing them with and without masks and looking friendly, as well as some other pictures for the kids to see showing them that the tables inside would be spaced apart etc. The school let my son and I come for an hour while the kids were outside the week before he started. I sat at the edge of the playground away from the other kids, and my son got to meet the other children. The staff will be minimising unnecessary physical contact between themselves and the kids but I think they can still hold a child's hand, change a diaper, and give comfort if a child needs it (maybe not hugs, but some sort of physical comfort, I'm sure). My son cried a bit at drop off for about three days but they told us that he would stop once he came inside and start playing. He's been enthusiastic to go every day since then. Preschool has been the best thing to happen to him for ages! 

This sounds dead-on for us too. Although our 2 year old is getting used to the masks. There is no way a teacher can avoid hugging/touching toddlers. I honestly believe in the “ripping-off the bandaid“ theory with toddler drop-offs. COVID is just helping us get on with it!

I don't have any advice to offer - just more solidarity.  We are in the exact same boat. In our case, I have asked the school director about this issue specifically, and I became quite sad as I read through all the schools COVID adaptations (though I credit the school with being very mindful and detail-oriented in this aspect). In our case, the school thoughtfully sent pictures of the teachers with and without masks and have described to us the drop-off process in advance.  As our son's start date approaches, we will talk more about the transition and try to prepare him the best we can.  The school director in our case included a note about crying - that we should expect it in the beginning - and to trust that the capable teachers will be able to handle making the new littles feel welcome and comfortable and to keep good-byes, brief, matter-of-fact and upbeat, imbued with confidence that they will have a good time.  The school also suggested that we prepare the kids, letting them know teachers will be wearing masks, just like they see thier parents/guardians or people in public wearing masks.  Gosh, it would have been hard enough to shepherd our Littles throough a new school transition without this dystopian scenario.  I am trying to trust that the kids are resilient, adaptable,  In our son's case, I am hoping that after he adjusts to the new environment, that he will accept that this is how school is - he doesn't know any previous version of school to compare. Sigh.  

Hello! My daughter had already attended her daycare for a year, and she basically walked right in the door without me. I was impressed! it would be great if there was a way for the primary teacher who will work with your child to do a few 5-10 minute zoom sessions with and without a mask on. That way your child is familiar with their face/masked face/voice. If your one of only a few parents with a 'new' kid, could they consider a for-fee weekend visit, where you, the primary teacher, and your child play in the play room for an hour with masks on? Just thinking of ways to get around the transition days that one would normally have when starting at a new place. I will say that my daughter LOVES seeing the other kids and has such a great time-- at this age they aren't particularly concerned if they are home all the time, but they definitely love all the structure and child-child interaction at school! Best of luck, I hope you find the right balance!

Reading through and a lot of people seem to be "waiting for things to return to normal" but they might be like this for years. If you fear is legitimately about contracting covid, then that is one thing. If the fear is that your toddler is going to have a weird first year of school, well then you're not giving your kid enough credit! Kids are so adaptable as long as we, the parents, let them be. Yes, our job is to keep them safe, but if your fear is that they will think this is weird, well it is! And if you are afraid that they'll be freaked out by masks? They'll get used to it. Fear of covid, sure, do what is right for your family. But keeping them home because you don't want them to be in a slightly weird situation (which may or may not be the new norm for years and also life is just weird) is only telling me that you don't have confidence in your kids. Kids are amazing and resiliant. My toddler is constantly surprising me. And he has so much confidence because he knows I believe in him. Give your kids a little credit. Question what you're afraid of and where that fear is coming from. If next year looks like this too, what will you do? Keep waiting? Your kids are growing and learning now, give them the chance if all you are afraid of is a little weirdness. We sent our 2.5 year old back a few weeks ago and he's SO happy to be with kids again. And the reduced stress of not having full time work and child care has been so great for my husband and me. Best of luck to everyone! 

We had this exact same worry and unenrolled our daughter for fall. Not sure if it was the right choice, but we are doing small socially distant pods with local families instead for socialization purposes. I think it would have felt different if she had gone there pre-COVID and was returning, had friends there, etc. Could you set up play dates with some kids from the preschool in advance that are in the same situation so that they’re starting school with friends? Feels like there’s no good solution, we’re just making the best choices we can. 

I was worried about the transition because as a single mom my daughter had spent 4 months basically with only me in the house.  She also had some stranger anxiety and had a hard time leaving me at some points - even to go to the grandparents while outside (and I was still present!).  I spoke to my pediatrician who was great and basically told me my daughter might have a hard time adjusting, but she would ultimately get past it.

The preschool we are going to has some of the policies you mention:  more focus on individual projects, masks for teachers and staff at all times (some also wear gloves at all times), parents cannot go past the opening doorway, temp checks, cleaning times/zones, and limitation to only the pod of kids you're in, and 1 teacher.  I did get to hang out with my daughter (gloves on, masked and in a corner) for 1 hour upon her first day.  We went for an hour together and stayed far away from teacher and other students.  After that it was 2 hours by herself, 3.5 hours by herself, and then a full day.  The teacher has been GREAT.  They still comfort the kids, she carefully removed her mask for a hot second so my daughter could see her smile, and they still interact.

My daughter surprised all of us by taking a grand total of 3 days to get used to things.  She ate lunch and slept on her 2nd day of school.  SECOND!!!  She is excited to go, and she talks about school all the time when home.  She talks about her teacher and the other students and calls them all her friends.  She loves her projects, and she is a happy, dirty camper by the end of the day.  She goes three days out of the week (Tu/W/Th).  This has been a GODSEND.  I'm a better mother, she's a more socialized kid.  She's been going almost a month now and we haven't looked back.

Kids are resilient.  She knows I wear a mask, and she didn't think anything of it for others.

It's been great for us, hope great for you.