The 2020 Back-to-School Conundrum

Photo Credit: SHAWN THEW/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

There is no ideal situation that I see happening for fall 2020 in regards to school starting. Many school districts have been tasked with making the difficult decision between in-person learning and remote learning, with some also considering a hybrid schedule to decrease the amount of students in the schools at one time, while still giving them face-time with teachers. They have staffing and logistical issues to consider, as well as valid parental concerns to address, and I don’t envy them as they have to decide what to do.

My children’s school sent out a survey asking parents which model of learning we preferred and, days later, I still haven’t decided which would be best for my own kids — whether it’s one of those options or if homeschooling might be the way to go — so I can’t imagine having to make a decision that will impact thousands of children with different family situations.

On the one hand, my children had an extremely difficult time with remote learning. Trying to help my older kids with online schooling while working and taking care of a toddler was extremely difficult. My youngest son, who is on the spectrum and has an IEP along with a whole team of people typically helping him through his school day, didn’t have a majority of that support during virtual learning, and had additional therapy assignments on top of his schoolwork for which I was solely responsible for helping him. Then I struggled with getting my oldest, who is typically an A-student, to complete schoolwork because he didn’t feel there was a point in doing the work, since none of it counted toward their grades (they all passed if they were passing before the quarantine).

Alternative Schooling Options

Looking at the other option of in-person learning, there are definitely perks to it. I know my kids desperately want (and need!) that time with their friends, and I also think they will learn better in a classroom. It would be helpful as a working parent, but I have serious health-related concerns about sending them to school. Children might not be getting sick as often as adults, but I’m a member of the high-risk population. Children are carriers, so everything they are exposed to, they will be bringing home to me and the rest of our family.

I also wonder how much actual teaching will happen with teachers probably having to spend a lot of time reminding children about proper mask wearing and hand washing, and how much socialization there will be, with many districts talking about closing lunchrooms, limiting sports and activities, and all the other precautions that will need to be taken to socially distance from each other.

With all the unknowns, I have registered my boys for school in the fall, but I am not sure yet if I will send them this coming school year. I also have started looking into homeschool curriculums and parent groups, though I think that will be a last resort for our family. As a planner, it’s extremely difficult not knowing what is going to happen in the fall, but my children’s mental and physical health is most important, so I’ll be waiting and making that decision closer to the start of the school year when I see how our state is handling the pandemic.

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