Our Readers Share What They’re Doing for School This Year (And How They Feel About It)

I thought I might throw up when schools were closed in my home state of Michigan back in March. Not only because it underscored the seriousness of what the world was dealing with, but it meant my husband and I would now be working parents homeschooling our two kids. We were lucky we could both work remotely, and I had flexibility with work. Like so many families, we did our best, but I think part of what helped us keep our sanity was thinking it was only temporary. By fall, we imagined with naiveté, the kids would be back in school and we’d be back to a semi-normal routine. We’d send them off appreciative for a slower summer and all the extra time together.

Now, here we are: an upcoming school year so full of uncertainty, any of us would gladly take “semi-normal.” Many school districts spent the summer putting together plans and options for this school year, all of which are ever-evolving based on new data, new cases, and more. We wanted to hear from our readers across the country (and ended up even hearing from some readers across the world) about what they were doing for school this year, the considerations that went into their decisions (if they had a decision), and how they were feeling. Nearly 70 moms responded.

 

Now, here we are: an upcoming school year so full of uncertainty, any of us would gladly take ‘semi-normal.’

 

Most had preschool and early elementary age children, but we did have some moms of teenagers and teachers without school-agers weigh in. Common considerations included the number of local cases, time parents would be able to devote to virtual learning, their unique family realities like senior care or pre-existing conditions, and how comfortable parents felt with their school’s ability to meet the safety standards. Additionally, their child’s age, individual needs, and how the spring shutdown went for them also factored in. For example, one mom said “spring went fine with our son”; another said, “spring was a disaster for our children.”

What was clear is that though parents are trying to be positive, many are feeling apprehensive, worried, and overwhelmed. Absent a clear “right” answer, those with a choice are trying to do what’s best for their family. Those without a choice, as one mom from St. Louis put it, are trying to “take it a day at a time.”

Read on for more of our readers’ plans for school this year.

 

In-Person Instruction

“We’re going in-person as long as the state stays in Phase 3. Virtual was almost impossible for our 6-year-old only child this spring. The absence of other activities, other children, and not being able to leave the house left our child truly struggling.” – Kelly C., Birmingham, MI

“We felt it is beneficial for our children to be in the school building, if possible for social, emotional, and intellectual growth. Our school only offered in-person five-days-a-week or 100 percent virtual. We are pretty certain school will be shut down at some point, but at least our kids will have had some physical face time with their teachers.” – Dana S., Wexford, PA

 

 

“We trust the school and feel good with the precautions they are taking (masks required, smaller class size, more outdoor instruction, screening process, etc.). We feel the in-person socialization is something our daughter needs, especially as an only child. Of course, we’re still nervous.” – Anonymous, Wilmette, IL

“We moved our kids to a private school because we thought there was a better chance for in-person learning. Not what we planned, but we think it’s the best option for them right now.” – Anonymous, Dallas, TX

“I don’t feel equipped to dedicate the one-on-one time to meet my sons’ learning needs. I felt like I was a terrible teacher in the spring and I’d rather not repeat that!” – Lisa G., Leawood, KS

 

Virtual/Remote Learning

“For our first-grader, we had the option of hybrid versus virtual distance-learning. We went with virtual for a number of reasons: we’re fortunate we have the option, to lighten the burden on teachers in the classroom, our son was afraid to go to school and get sick and die (something we obviously have to work on), and our neighbors are also doing distance-learning and those are his primary playmates.” – Kate O., Twin Cities, MN

“CPS (Chicago Public Schools) are only virtual. I was hoping for a hybrid option since my daughter is starting kindergarten. It’s going to be challenging … we’re doing virtual tutoring this summer, and my daughter is not as engaged nor does she look forward to school like she did for preschool.” – Stef F., Chicago, IL

“We opted for in-person learning, but then our district went 100 percent virtual because they didn’t feel they could provide in-person instruction safely. We don’t have family that can assist us and can’t pay for full-time care for three kids. My children also struggled in the spring with remote learning. Currently, we are struggling with how I can work a full-time job at home and assist three kids in their learning all going on at the same time. My husband is a teacher, and we don’t know yet if he will be required to do in-person or remote teaching. Thankfully, my company is fairly flexible, but I’m very worried about managing it all.” – Jasmin, W., Rochester Hills, MI

 

Source: @happilyhafsa

 

“We were OK with hybrid, my oldest was asking to go back to school, and we are (thankfully) low-risk. CPS then decided to go fully remote and re-evaluate … this will be a lot for me. I will come off my part-time paying job into managing six kids and their logins/assignments on my other two days. I feel like my poor 1-year-old will be put to the side a lot as I’m managing others. I feel like I have every advantage (supportive and employed partner, job myself, strong support network), and I’m terrified. And that’s just the logistical part, not to mention the quality of education and social-emotional part. And oh yeah-a pandemic and racial inequality and on and on …” – Jocelyn L., Chicago IL

“My husband and I have autoimmune diseases. Doing anything other than virtual learning wasn’t an option. We luckily work some staggered hours. My son, being an only child, is pretty good about entertaining himself, and he’s old enough to not need to be handheld all day.” – Ami C., Aurora, IL

“I’m on the administration team at my child’s school which houses pre-K to sixth grade, and my other two kids go to the staff daycare there. I was able to help make the decision for our school to go fully virtual. We picked this option because of all the unknowns and wanting to make the safest choice for children and staff … We all want to get back to normal, but even in school, it will be a far cry from normal. So for now, I’ll work full-time from home and help my kids with remote learning full-time (nightmare) with a newborn. It’s not forever, only feels like it.“ – Kendra L., Boston, MA

 

Hybrid In-Person/Virtual Learning

“We have a son going into kindergarten and with cases low in our town and state we feel ok about the school’s phased hybrid plan. I’m confident the schools and town health department will watch the data and direct us on what we should be doing,” – Kate M., Marblehead, MA

“I am very conflicted but decided that my kids needed to be in an actual classroom as much as possible. I am very concerned about the school year but am trying to be positive and do what’s best for my family. “ – Colleen S., Grand Rapids, MI

 

 

“We are incredibly fortunate to live in an area with very few cases that will allow our kids to go back to school two days per week in a hybrid model. While the interaction with their peers/teachers will be different, we felt it was best for them to have some interaction with people outside our immediate family. They need to be able to see us just as parents and not as parents/teachers/playmates even if only for a few days a week.” – Anonymous, Landgrove, VT

 

Homeschooling

“A huge part of preschool is the socialization it offers. When that was taken out of the equation with virtual learning, the cost wasn’t worth it to us. Also, the inevitability of school closures and reopening and all the emotional confusion that could cause my young kids was not appealing.” – Jess H., Tampa, FL

“As a teacher, I don’t feel safe going back to school. Therefore I don’t feel it’s right to send my daughter to other teachers who may also not feel safe.” – Kate H., Pittsburgh, PA

“We are expecting a baby and care for seniors. Our school’s inability to provide a plan on how to provide a safe environment and how classes will look (led us to choose to homeschool our 6-year-old).” – Anonymous, Los Angeles, CA

“Our district only offered remote learning for this year, which we know from our experience last spring means a lot of worksheets and screen time. Our daughter would also be losing the majority of any community feeling she had before. This is not the school experience we imagined and feel our children learn best by ‘doing’. We are excited to be homeschooling this year and feel it will be a great experience for our family as a whole, with more time together and more opportunity for diving deep into each of their individual interests and working at their own pace.” – Rachel B., Vancouver, WA

 

Source: @breathing.room.organization via #sharetheeverymom

 

Still Deciding

“Once the school releases its safety measures, we will be making a final decision. I want to see mask requirements and how much exposure my child will have during the day to other kids. Another factor is mental health. My child thrives while around other kids and these past few months have been extremely difficult, but at the end of the day her health and safety come first.” – Aleece H., Gaylord, MI

“My kids are so young they won’t be set back, but they do need social interaction. I have so much anxiety every day about the virus but feel their social skills and the structure of school takes precedence over the risk for kids my daughters’ ages. I care about teachers being safe too and feel school can be done in a safe way if everyone is on the same page.” – Sarah G., Southwest, MI

“Our preschool is attempting to keep kids five feet apart with masks on and lots of outside time. But my 4-year-old isn’t compliant with mask-wearing, so I am not very confident that we will send her.” – Anonymous, Lakewood, OH

 

Alternative School Options

“My main concern was that our daughter would fall behind even though she’s entering kindergarten. As two working parents, we would not be able to give her the attention she needs to learn. We decided on a new program created to support siblings at our daycare. We are already comfortable with the teachers and are excited for her to be with other children even if it’s not the typical kindergarten environment. While we fear the virus, it’s much better for both the kids and us to get back to some sort of normalcy.” – Lily F., Charlotte, NC

“School is open in-person, but we opted to do an education pod with two other families that we trust.” – Lynette K., Concord, MA

 

 

“Schools in Zimbabwe are closed with no resumption date announced. We are looking at a small pod/bubble of 3-4 kids and a teacher. Our older son’s school is also doing online activity packs.” – Deena A., Harare, Zimbabwe 

“When our public district changed from hybrid to all virtual, our family decided to delay public kindergarten for a year and enroll our oldest and youngest in a full-day private preschool program. We felt in-person learning is safe in our county based on the data as well as our confidence that the private preschool is following CDC recommendations to keep children and families as safe as possible. This was not an easy choice because we were very excited about our oldest child starting kindergarten in an international public school. We do feel grateful that we had the flexibility due to our daughter’s age and resources to afford and make this choice..” – Anonymous, Boulder, CO

“I opted to take our 8-year-old out from our school completely and enrolled her in a virtual learning school for the entire year. I was concerned about the academics because virtual learning this spring was a joke. I also didn’t want her having to be sent home/back-to-school/home even if they did go back to brick and mortar. Our 3-year-old will be in daycare.” – Julie S., Mobile, AL

 

Read More: How to Talk to Your Kids About COVID-19 School Closures

 

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