An Unprecedented School Year

This July, like each July prior, the stores have their Back To School sections ready to go. This July however, there is less excitement and more fear. There are mixed feelings about going back to school for many families. Parents and kids may be hesitant to run out and buy new supplies.

When schools closed their physical doors and transitioned to e-learning in the spring, families were left scrambling with how to make this new normal work. How do you get your school-age kids to engaged in e-learning while you are supposed to be productive working from home at your own full-time job? It seemed impossible, but families, schools, and communities rallied together and made it happen. Some may have looked at it as an adventure, or an extended summer vacation. Some may have felt more desperate to try to make it work. However we approached the school closures in the spring, I think many of us assumed Covid-19 would have run its course and things would be more or less back to normal by now. It seems, though, that Covid-19 is still impacting our society in more ways than we can count. The virus seemed to be slowing down, but as states are easing up on their restrictions, we are seeing the number of cases increase again. The government and our schools are now faced with the task of trying to determine what the 20/21 school year will look like. The task is daunting and the uncertainty surrounding the situation is causing stress on educators and parents alike.

You may be feeling unsure about your decision regarding your child’s education. I know I am, and it’s okay to feel unsure. This is a situation our world has never encountered before and there are a lot of unknown factors. For many of us, it feels like there are no good choices to be had. Each choice comes with its own levels of risk – risk of getting sick or making others sick if we put kids in school, risk of losing our jobs and financial stability if we don’t send them because we need to be present to facilitate e-learning. Some districts are offering hybrid models of alternate days or half days. Will employers be flexible about this for working parents, or will some parents be forced to leave the workforce? These questions are racing in every parent’s mind right now.

Your family, friends, and neighbors may have different opinions about whether to send kids back to school. Each family is trying to weigh all options and make a decision that they believe is best for their family. The decision to send your kids back to in person school is a tough one. The decision to keep your kids home and do e-learning is a tough one. The decision to homeschool your kids is a tough one. Be kind to one another right now. We may not like the choices that we’ve been given, we may not feel fully confident in our decisions about school this fall, and those feelings are okay. We can help each other through this by supporting one another. Let’s encourage each other to move towards the school year with confidence, knowing that we are all making the best choices we can for our kids.

Beth Nakad, LCSW