In a couple of weeks, schools in our area will welcome children back into their buildings. And if there is one thing the schools have in common, it’s that their plans are tailored to fit the needs of their students. But that doesn’t mean each district’s day or week will look the same.

Some districts are offering two options: face-to-face instruction or a virtual option for those families who wish their children to learn from home. Other districts are offering a hybrid model, combining face-to-face learning with virtual learning.

What we have consistently heard from superintendents about these plans is that they are trying to make the best decision possible for the safety of everyone in their communities. Superintendents have also expressed the fact that there is no one perfect plan and that they, along with their district teams that developed those plans, are doing the best they can.

It’s a good reminder that for all of us, this is the first pandemic we have faced.

It’s also a good reminder that parents need to do their part to help prepare their children for a school year, unlike previous years.

No matter what the plan is in a particular district, it’s up to the parents to send a positive message to their children about returning to school.

Any of us who have children know that they often react to a situation based on how we as parents react. And we have all seen our children model behavior they learned by watching us.

So as this school year rapidly approaches, it’s important for parents to get behind their district’s Return to Learn plan.

If masks are required, help your children get used to wearing one. Perhaps if parents don’t mask up, they could wear a mask to show their children how to wear one correctly. In addition, help remind children about the importance of practicing social distancing when possible and frequent hand washing.

And most importantly, if parents have a concern about their district’s Return to Learn plan, have that discussion with district officials. Make it a discussion between adults and do so out of earshot of their children.

Does that mean parents shouldn’t discuss how school plans are going with their children? Of course not. But try to avoid negativity. It will be easier for the children to make these adjustments if parents present a positive message.

Also, remember that COVID-19 remains a fluid situation. Many districts have already made changes to Return to Learn plans. Parents should expect that in the coming weeks schools may have to make changes to school schedules. When that happens, remember that those decisions are made to protect the safety of everyone.

It’s also important to know that if schools must return to a virtual option, work assigned during that time is required learning. Students will be graded and those grades will count toward grade point averages. Parents will need help insure their children are taking the virtual work seriously.

When that first day of school begins, parents, like in years past, will be checking school bags for needed supplies. Unlike other years, masks and bottles of hand sanitizer may be as important as calculators, notebooks and pencils.

The first day of school photos will be taken at home like in other years. Hopefully, there will be plenty of smiles as those photos are taken. Smiles from the children in front of the camera, but also from the parents taking those photos. It’s another way to set that positive tone.

It’s a tone your school and your children need this year more than ever.

— The “Our Opinion” column is the consensus of the editorial board. For information or comments, contact a member of the board: Beth Lutgen, Mary Ungs-Sogaard or Mike Putz