Back to School in the Pandemic Era
Right now, families are facing the unknown of what to expect for fall when schools are supposed to reopen. So many questions fill our minds: How different will schools will look? Is a hybrid of distance learning and onsite instruction the new norm? As a family with parents who work and need full-time child care, we wonder what that future will look like.
The pandemic and closures hit in the middle of March and our world changed. The lack of socialization and the constant exposure to technology have played a tremendous role in the lives of all the kids who have been sheltering in place for the last three months.
As a mom and sole business proprietor, the first few weeks of the quarantine were a continuous struggle of figuring out how to implement a distance-learning schedule that coexisted with my work-from-home schedule, not to mention keeping a toddler occupied.
Our routines started to normalize mid-May, when we took it back to basics and spent more family time together. School hours became much shorter, and days were filled with more reading and outdoor activities. We started to incorporate walks, bike rides, picnics, and hikes into our daily schedule.
New Back to School Challenges
We spent most of the months in quarantine waiting for a statement from our school so we knew what to prepare for. Parent anxiety was high: What would we do if school remained closed? How would we work and teach at the same time? Would we have to home-school, or was distance learning a possibility?
But we are also excited to buy new back-to-school clothes and supplies. Our school sent out an announcement and a supply list for every grade in the hopes of kids returning to school. All supplies this year are not shareable and have to be exact — the exact-size pencil box and the right composition notebooks, for example. Each child is required to bring their own headphones and masks.
Even though a full-time schedule is anticipated for the fall at our school, the classrooms will look much different. This is a new era of kids wearing masks, being separated into small groups, and having more outdoor activities. Strict guidelines will be put into place, and parents won’t be allowed inside the facility. A hybrid model is available for kids who cannot come to school and for those who might get sick and have to stay in quarantine.
Looking forward, my heart grieves that I won’t have that memorable walk to the classroom and a first-day back-to-school picture as I drop my child off. I know that these sacrifices are worth the trade-off for social interaction, an in-person education, and a safe learning environment for the kids.