It’s been four months since COVID-19 brought the world and education as we know it to an abrupt stop. In those early weeks, I along with most parents were looking forward to a mid-April return to our normal lives.
Fast forward to June and it became increasingly clear that we would not return to our normal for quite some time. All of my son’s summer camps were canceled and his book club was moved from in-person to weekly Zoom meetings.
The start of the next school year is fastly approaching and many other parents are making the decision on whether in-person instruction is safe for students and teachers.
Several school districts have given parents the option of distance education or in-person instruction. My soon to be 8th grader is one month from the start of school; his school did not give an option for distance learning. They have, of course, sent out a detailed plan for social distance and being smaller than most public schools this implementation, although challenging, is much more doable.
I have spoken to several parents who are keeping the children home to air on the side of caution. On the other hand, there are parents who, like myself, are essential workers and have no choice but to send their children to school because they are either single parents or both parents are working outside the home. These scenarios are more common in our communities of color and communities with limited resources and income where COVID-19 also seems to hit hardest.
I am anxiously watching as the first day of school for my son is approaching. There is still so much we don’t know about COVID-19. This virus has already debunked so many theories in a few short months. Will the theory of children becoming ill be proven wrong?
I am also worried about the safety of our teachers. My son had a teacher in 5th grade that he still goes and hugs every morning before class. I wonder how many children come and hug her in the morning before class? I worry about the health of the teachers and staff who love our children every day, many of whom are in high-risk categories with age and underlying conditions.
There seems to be no clear direction from our government on many actions concerning COVID-19 and our children’s return to school is no different. If the theory of children not spreading COVID-19 turns out to be wrong, it will be our poor communities and communities of color that will ultimately suffer the most.