As the mother of two adult children, and as a former special education teacher, I am very familiar with schools and parenting. I know what it’s like to fill out all the paperwork at the beginning of the school year. I know what it’s like to help with homework (and to be told by my kids that I am not helpful at all, though not in such polite terms). I know what it’s like to have kids at home all summer and to look forward to the beginning of a new school year. I know what it’s like to anxiously await word of which teacher your child will be with, and whether your child’s BFF will be in the same classroom. I consider myself an pro at this stuff.
But everything has changed in just a few months. I have no idea what it’s like to be a parent of children living at home right now, whether that child is a baby or a new college graduate. No idea what it’s like to have children at home 24/7 with no help and no end in sight. No idea what it’s like to work full time from home, with a partner doing the same, and children needing us every minute. And I certainly have no idea what decisions I would make about my children returning to school in the fall.
I’m so concerned to see “schools reopening” becoming a political issue. School districts and private schools are all working independently to figure out how to best educate their children in the fall. Everyone agrees that in-person learning is best; that children need socialization; that many children need the nutritional and day care support offered at school. But not every school or district has the personnel or financial resources to do this alone.
Where are the statewide and national guidelines? Where is the increased federal financial support for more school custodians and nurses? Who’s going to pay for the costs of masks, sanitizing gel, and the higher water bill from hand washing? Who is going to be the substitute teacher when your child’s teacher gets ill? If your school tells your children to attend class less than 5 days a week, who is going to watch them if you have gone back to work outside the house?
There are thousands of unanswered questions, and thousands of things to be considered. Where are the committees of teachers, administrators, health care workers and public health official meeting together to make plans so you can be assured your child will be safe? Sadly, I’ve read numerous stories that teachers, many of whom are over 50, are not being included in the re-opening plans.
Like all of us, I would love to see schools re-open for in-person learning in the fall. I would love to see teachers and their students back together, learning the academic and social skills that are taught in every grade. But the most important thing is the safety of our children and our school staff.
It seems that all parents have several tough decisions ahead of them, ranging from will I send my children back to school to how will I manage my own job if I don’t. Please know that I am here for you if you would like to discuss anything about the upcoming school year and your own personal choices.
I am so impressed by how parents have handled things since schools first closed. Keep up the excellent work; all of society (and your children) needs you!