From Parent to Parent: Seeing Each Other Amidst Uncertainty
We barely made it out of all the craziness last school year, and a new one is already here! I spent most of the summer trying to figure out what our school’s COVID-19 protocol would be and what that meant for my kids. Would they be homeschooling, would the schools be in-person or online, and what would their options be? Would all kids and staff be vaccinated? How would seating on transportation look?
This whole summer, I was drowning in information about the virus. If I didn’t read or watch it, it was somebody talking about the surging number of cases among children 18 years of age and younger. The country and state are opening back up—with the return of everything from school fall sports to fairs and festivals— it’s definitely hard to reconcile that not everyone is vaccinated and not everyone believes in it.
As a parent, I know all too well the fear of something awful happening to your child, from accidents to illnesses and just overall fear of the unknown. And all of that wrapped together is exactly what it can feel like to process all of the information, data, risk, fear, and love for your child at this moment—a moment when sending your child to school is complicated by watching people we love get sick and die from COVID.
It’s hard to avoid the what-if. I know some schools have required face masks for children and staff going back to school. Some schools will require their staff to be vaccinated. And other schools are requiring those that aren’t vaccinated, students, and staff to be tested weekly. But what if they refuse testing? Can they refuse? Is that not an invasion of privacy? I haven’t a clue! It’s just questions I think about. Yet, at the same time, I wonder whether my children experienced enough growth academically this past year or if they were stagnant in their studies?
The Pandemic and Academic Growth Are Still a Concern
Many students are back in classrooms, but advocating for academic needs cannot fade. There are students who need tutoring and assistance catching up from last year, and children and families still without computer and internet access in Minnesota in the event we have to go back to virtual learning.
The pandemic gave me the opportunity to work with my children more, see where they were academically, and where they needed to be. It also helped that in one of my many past lives I taught and tutored; I just had to dust my skills off! (But I understand that I am fortunate in that way and others are not. So, I definitely don’t take it for granted.) Internet access was a problem for us. Luckily, I switched carriers and found one that seems to have a steady, strong signal, so the connection hasn’t been as bad as a problem as it was last year. But again, we can’t know what is coming our way—and that weighs on my mind.
So, parent to parent, know that I see you. This is hard! And there’s no elegant solution to our decision-making. A recent piece in The New York Times, Why COVID Has Broken Parents’ Sense of Risk, emphasizes that our feelings don’t always line up with the onslaught of facts—or even the probability of harm to ourselves or others. But it is clear that we can stand up for our kids’ needs. I know my children are my life, and I’m sure you feel much the same. We’re in this together, and you’re not alone.
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