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Thinking about school in the fall

Curious how everyone here is thinking about school/childcare in the fall. Have started to see what different districts are planning (mid-size Midwest city).

The biggest district is doing a 2/3 day split, alternating which students get Wednesday each week.
Two more districts have announced that their current plan is 100% in the classroom, though they have numerous contingencies around distance learning and the like, so that plan could certainly change.

Obvious given forum rules I don’t want to make this a political discussion (though if you take politics out of it entirely I still find it a fascinating balance of tradeoffs…) – I’m more curious about how other preppers are thinking about handling schools if they reopen/childcare if they don’t/impact on their children.

Our only child right now is not yet a toddler, so they are not personally impacted by schools, but my wife is a teacher, and thus obviously is. From everything I’ve seen on mortality the statistical risk to any of us given our age/health is roughly equivalent to that of driving 10,000 miles. The morbidity risk is still pretty unknown – as Mr. Stokes often brings up. From what I’ve seen my thoughts on that risk *to us* is trending in the optimistic direction -recent reports around T-Cell impact and potential cross-immunity from common cold strains (see: wife = teacher for analysis of past cold prevalence in our household) are driving much of that.

However, obviously our risk of transmitting it to grandparents and others is high if we are in school/daycare situations, which makes decision making a bit trickier.

I see several options (I work remotely, for context below.):
Wife quits job, takes care of kid at home (best for exposure/safely seeing grandparents – bad for wife’s career)
Wife works at school, but wears mask and hopes to not be overly exposed, in-home childcare for kiddo (made trickier due to wife’s potential exposure)
Wife works at school, kiddo goes to daycare, avoid grandparents (outside of very socially distanced settings) until we get it and are over with it.

That’s what our rough decision matrix seems to look like. Curious what those of you with school-aged kids and no teacher spouses are thinking.

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  • Comments (47)

    • 6

      Emily Oster has written a excellent piece about decision making around COVID risk:

      https://slate.com/technology/2020/05/coronavirus-family-choices-grandparents-day-care-summer-camp.html

      She also has an updated roundup of current findings about kids and COVID risk here:

      https://explaincovid.org/explainers/kids-and-covid-19

      This article about childcare that has been operating the whole time is also encouraging:

      https://www.npr.org/2020/06/24/882316641/what-parents-can-learn-from-child-care-centers-that-stayed-open-during-lockdowns

      That kids don’t seem to be as susceptible to catching or spreading the virus is one of the few positive aspects of this whole pandemic. We have chosen to send our toddler back to daycare given the current info available, despite keeping frequent contact with grandparents. His grandparents are all in their early 60s or younger, so at dramatically less risk than people in their 80s. Interestingly, my mom’s oncologist approved this decision, even though she is actively being treated for metastatic cancer. He believes that since she has no lung involvement, with her well-controlled blood counts the mental health benefits outweigh the risks.

      As for the options available…the huge number of (largely) women who are dropping out of the workforce to handle childcare is going to have long-reaching economic and cultural effects. I feel like I hardly see any discussion of it outside of circles of other working moms.

      • 4

        This is a great point. School is such a critical child-care resource in a country where most parents work out of the home – we can’t just shut it down and not expect severe ripple effects. The economy is bad enough now too…imagine what could happen if millions more have to quit in September. A lot of working women are employed in healthcare or front line sectors too (uh, hospitals or food anyone?).

        A friend of mine works in HR at a big company and said almost half their employees are already working reduced hours right now FROM HOME due to childcare issues.

    • 5

      I’ve got young kids under 5. They are going to in person pre-k as planned. This is a really, really hard decision and there is no right answer for everyone. But here are my thoughts. I still think most people don’t appreciate just how dangerous it is to keep prek-adolescent children away from their peers for an extended period.  People are so focused on covid, they can forget that other factors can destroy your health too. Daily, repeated social interaction with other children is a critical aspect of normal human development. It isn’t a nice to have, it is essential. On top of it, we were already dealing with alarming rises in mood disorders, suicidality, delayed social milestones and other signs of social/emotional dysfunction in children and adolescents before covid hit. What happens if we cut off peer-to-peer social development for a year on top of that? I’m seeing parents on social media already reporting that their kids are crying all the time, begging to see their friends, or just shutting down emotionally and losing interest in life activities. And that is just after a few short months.

      As a parent, I have to balance the very serious risk of covid19 with the very serious risk of attempting to artificially “pause” my kids’ social and academic development for a year or more. I’m realizing more and more that I can’t “sprint” my way to the finish line of this long pandemic. So I don’t like it, but I’m going to trust the American Academy of Pediatrics, hold my nose, and pick the risks of covid over the risks of extended isolation. I hope it is the right choice for us.

    • 6

      Our state will announce one of three possible school scenarios for the Fall. Until they announce the decision in the last week of July, all districts are preparing for all three scenarios. We purchased our 5th grade “only child” a laptop because two of the three scenarios involve distance learning. No matter what happens we will not be using either nutrition services or school age child care. I work in state government and have not been hearing that it is realistic for us to return to school full time with the status of the spread and what would be required for disinfecting, social distancing, transportation system, and personal protection. I am highly skeptical we will return in the Fall. I have given detailed feedback at several levels in my state about what needs to be done to improve distance learning. I am fortunate that I can work from home indefinitely.

      • 5

        Do you have thoughts about what ages distance learning is appropriate for? My intuition is that below middle school it’s going to be functionally worthless for ~90% of kids, and that even in middle and high school it is a substantial downgrade over in-person, both for purposes of education and socialization. Did it work well for your 5th grader this spring?

        My thoughts are definitely not super informed on this (I’ve seen some graphs about falling math proficiency but haven’t researched extensively) so curious to hear your thoughts.

      • 6

        NYC teacher here with public private experience. Distance learning is completely different from in-class instruction, and not just because of the isolation/platforms. Unfortunately, it takes 6-12 months of serious effort and trial/error to transition traditional classroom program to online delivery, and most schools are not investing in the change (hoping to be back in the building, don’t blame them; hard to push burned-out distance learning teachers to work through summer).

        I teach upper elementary, and have two younger kids at home. My youngest didn’t engage at all with the program, and I didn’t push it. My oldest–still elementary–was more interested, but I erred on the side of playing in the park, digging in the dirt and collecting wildflowers.

        The way most schools are approaching distance learning–trying to replicate in-class teaching through live online sessions–is actually worst practices, but it’s the easiest, simplest move. That’s why the younger a kid gets, the less-effective it is, primarily because they’ve yet to acquire the student skills of ‘sit there and listen’ that older kids possess.

        Social-emotional wellness is my primary concern in all this, but not so much socialization. Only children is obviously a different situation, and I know many parents near me with one kid who’ve had a rough time. If your kid is into it, face timing with friends can be fun.

        Global Online Academy is an excellent online high school, and also a fantastic resource for online learning practice. It’s geared towards educators, so a lot of it can be jargony/technical. However, it definitely sets the standard and it’s professional development is highly sought-after. One Schoolhouse is another good resource, again for educators but also offering high school courses.

        For parents of elementary/preschool kids worried about their kids falling behind, I recommend the following: let them explore their world as much as you are comfortable, constantly ask them “I wonder why that is?” and help them find answers to their questions. Read and listen to stories each day (getepic is a fantastic subscription site with a huge library of audio books and e-books). Make a piece of art each day. Build things, break things and get dirt under their fingernails.

        It’s really hard to be a parent, especially these days, so good luck to all.

    • 5

      We started homeschooling our oldest son this past school year. My wife is/was a high school teacher, and she’s taking at least a one-year sabbatical to homeschool him this year.

      • 6

        Our grandkids offered their thoughts and anxieties about the new school year.  They are much more aware of what is going on than we initially gave them credit for.  Since Covid-19 is increasing in the Virginia Beach area, particularly around the military reservations, they asked, wouldn’t 5-days of actual school (2-days one week & 3-days the next week) be more dangerous than 10-days of home schooling?  This got us thinking.  Apparently part of the school experience will include pre- and post-cleaning and disinfecting areas of instruction.  We’re also not sure about any impact the bus situation might have for children and bus drivers in a closed ventillation environment.  We’re thinking cruise ships, the Theodore Roosevelt, meat packing plants, nursing homes, and the like).  Would that be an incubator for passing one infection around?  The vote seems to be swaying toward home schooling this year.  I mean, we’re not school teachers, and we’ll make mistakes, but we’ll have twice the time to get it right!  . . .we might even learn a few new things ourselves!

    • 5

      We live in the Bay Area and haven’t been told what to expect yet. I pulled my kid out of school a few days before our lockdown orders went into effect, because I could see the writing on the wall. Similarly, I don’t think our underfunded school districts will be able to provide the necessary supplies and oversight to keep our children disinfected and distanced in any meaningful way. I will wait to see what the schools propose, but in my mind I’m prepared to keep my kid home for first grade.

      In that vein, I wonder if I should be looking into any homeschooling resources or if I should wait to see what materials our enrolled school will offer for distanced learning.

      • 2

        I would say to buy some homeschooling books now and then consider the school’s distance learning materials, which are probably not going to be very good. I’d recommend the wonderful DK workbooks for every grade in elementary school in math, science, geography, and more.

        https://www.amazon.com/s?k=dk+math+kindergarten&sprefix=dk+math+&ref=nb_sb_ss_ac-a-p_2_8

        Also What Your – Grader Needs to Know. Learning Language Arts through Literature. Saxon math. Library books.

        i looked at our district’s distance learning plan. No social studies for K, 1, or 2. I remember from my daughter’s elementary years that there was no ancient Egypt, no dinosaurs, no Civil War ever. Several unnecessary blocks like a Community Meeting (Home Room?) and empty time periods for rest which I guess take the place of recess. I wouldn’t do it if I had a school-aged child.

        There is unlikely to be much accountability. There really couldn’t be under the circumstances. I think the best way to learn is to read to children of any age and for them to read independently when they can do so. I had two homeschooled students when I taught college Spanish, and they were the best students I ever had in every way.

    • 5

      Hi all! Thanks for getting this conversation going. I’ve been kicking around a story idea on this topic for our blog! I’m planning to figure out:

      1. How should parents prepare for kids to go back to school?
      2. What will kids need? How can they prepare (emotionally and physically)?
      3. How can we prepare parents and children for the uncertainty to come, or for a second round of homeschooling?

      What else would you all like to see covered in a blog post? I’m talking to doctors, child psychologists, and educators.

      • 6

        I think my questions would be roughly:
        1. How worried should I be about my child with regards to COVID? As I said, from the numbers I’ve crunched, it seems to be even better than #justtheflu for school-age children (with some potential commodities, primarily obesity)

        2. What’s the current state of the research around cross-immunity? If colds do provide cross-immunity, it seems like there could be benefits to having your child around others

        3. What are the dangers of keeping them out of school, educationally and socially (assuming physical isolation – not just homeschooling with seeing friends on the side, which I imagine would be largely fine).

        I’m sure there’s others, but that’s what I’m thinking about mostly.

      • 6

        I would like to see discussion of the long-term economic downsides for people (primarily women) dropping out of the workforce to take on full-time childcare. There is quite a bit of data around this in a non-pandemic context already. Deb Perelman’s piece in the NYT today touches on this:

      • 5

        Thank you for suggesting this! It’s something we just HAVE to figure out. I know Portland, OR has started a Universal Preschool movement for this very reason… and I’m just not sure how folks are going to manage to have childcare, work, and stay safe. I’ll keep talking to experts for TP though!

        https://upnow2020.org/

      • 6

        It may be interesting to look into resources that are now newly available to help out with this strange transition to distance learning. I’m an undergraduate at Cornell University and when our spring semester switched to being all online and we all had to leave campus a group of students started thinking about how this was effecting others whose academic year was also interrupted that were younger than us and a program called Students Helping Students was created. The program focuses on partnering Cornell students who (typically) have experience as peer counselors and as tutors with struggling elementary, middle and high school students that are the dependents of Weill Cornell medical faculty (who were often on the front lines in NYC) for Zoom based tutoring. Lots of us are still continuing to do virtual remedial tutoring over the summer on math or reading with the students we have been paired with and there are plans to continue the program into the fall. I find it hard to believe that this is the only volunteer program of its kind to focus on helping out both parents and students during a trying time, and while I’m sure the vetting processes and training vary extensively from program to program it may be worth looking into to see what’s being put out by colleges and universities (or even to see if a national tutoring program exists).

    • 5

      Hi all! I asked you a few days ago what you’d want to know from us about back-to-school, and we just published our first article on the subject: https://theprepared.com/blog/covid-parents-guide-back-to-school/

      It’s not comprehensive—there’s so much to cover! So please let me know what other questions you have. I’m speaking with a few medical experts this week.

      • 5

        Hi Kelsey- One question I have is about adequate ventilation calculation for (old) school buildings and how we will know if the school buildings have proper ventilation/air flow for the number of people in the buildings that reasonably mitigates the risk of spreading the virus. What about lunchtime recommendations from the medical experts? Do we only allow students to bring their own food and utensils?

      • 6

        The short answer is that they almost definitely don’t. This is so much more problematic than most people realize. I posted some guidance from Harvard in another thread. However, they don’t appear to realize just how bad things are in the world of HVAC. Most people servicing these buildings don’t have remedial equipment for measuring basic things like static pressure, let alone sophisticated equipment for measuring airflow. On a national level, the simplest way to approach this is probably to install exhaust fans of a known rate of flow. Panasonic bathroom fans will be a really good choice imo, as they’ll tend to be quite close to rated airflow. Most other stuff is a crap shoot. I’ve tested a lot of fans, but not everything. It’s possible that inline or remote fans could also be good, and if ducted to multiple rooms might be less expensive.

        https://shop.fantech.net/en-CA/inline–duct–fans/c46945

        ASHRAE writes the most reliable ventilation standards and has people looking at this, but as far as I can tell, they’ve settled on their regular standards or higher for covid ventilation flows. So likely around 15 cfm per occupant or higher. I mentioned in another thread that ICUs are supposed to ventilate at 2 air changes/hr + 2 filtered air changes. So I would put the vent flow rates somewhere between 15 cfm/occupant and 2 ach (this is a broad and totally made up range btw) https://www.ashrae.org/technical-resources/resources

        MERV 13 filter in existing equipment and turning fan on is another bit of guidance that’s probably sound.

    • 5
      • 9

        What’s that you say–CDC Director Redfield says it’s safe for children to return? Gadzooks, we’re saved!

        /snicker

        Pretty sure they’re all out of credibility down there at headquarters in Atlanta, but I do appreciate the irony.

        I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but my eyes are tired from all the squeezing hard and wishing “please please please let me wake up in New Zealand”.

      • 5

        Yeah that dude is a crank IMO.

      • 3

        This is the visual: http://link.com/to-thing

    • 7

      Does your wife know if her school with be requiring masks? It seems insane to me that there would be teachers not wearing a mask.

    • 9

      I’m a retired teacher and don’t have school aged kids but if I did I would be erring on the side of caution which I believe means keeping kids at home for the time being.  I don’t believe most kids will be irreparably damaged by a quarter, semester or even full year away from school.  The chance of your child getting covid and transmitting to an older or health compromised relative is very low, but not zero.  Even if kept at home there are other places where they might get it, increasing the chances.  If someone caught it and died it would ruin my life.  It won’t ruin my life if they are behind in school, or socially limited.  That’s my calculation.

      We’re only been learning about this disease a few months, I don’t have enough information to risk sending my child to school if I have other options.

      I realize many don’t have the kind of options I would have.  For them we need a systemic reboot and that’s a different topic, probably a different forum.

       

      • 7

        Outstanding! I agree 100%.  Being a Prepper means preparing for the worse, not throwing caution to the wind and ‘hoping’ for the best.  My grandkids are going to be taught at home this year.

    • 9

      There appears to be a number of educators chiming in.  Might history be repeating itself?

      I often consider the Aztecs and the Maya and our approach to Covid-19.  How it applies to our kids and grandkids going to school.  I compliment all Preppers who plan for the worst, rejoice when the worst doesn’t materialize and ready in case all goes wrong.  But other principles of thought raise the hairs on the back of my neck, especially when it affects our kids.  Too many people condone the loss of life as merely the cost of doing ‘business’ in America today.

      Once ancient, cruel and unenlightened civilizations offered public human sacrifices to appease apparitions they did not understand for a bountiful crop or successful year – for the greater good.

      We’ve heard that the death of the elderly is acceptable under the circumstances.  More recently, the infection of youth is tolerated because ‘most’ will survive because of their health.  Now we’re considering opening up our schools because the children are resilient and most will survive.  That, of course, does not take into consideration the health liability to those childrens’ parents or the educators in the classroom.

      There was a time when civilized nations were appalled by the discovery of a 13-year old child exhumed in China whom had been sacrificed around 1600- to 1040-BC.  The practice of human sacrifice was abandoned in China in 221-BC before becoming accepted today as merely the cost of conducting business in America.    Is there any difference between the the Aztec holyman of yesteryear standing  atop his pyramid with blood soaked hands and the civilized programmed discarding of human lives for the greater good today?

      I’m afraid posterity will demonize America’s Covid-19 approach as the darkest time of an unenlightened and barbaric civilization which practiced human sacrifice against a phantom ‘some’ could not comprehend for the delusional hopes of a successful ‘harvest.’

      If human sacrifice is acceptable today, then the future looks grim and Preppers need to be prepared even more than ever.  OUR KIDS ARE STAYING HOME!

    • 8

      The more teachers I connect with–public and private, across the US–the more I’m learning just how angry and scared teachers have become. Angry that we/schools are suddenly expected to magically elevate the US out of this economic hole by “letting the economy restart”, angry that we working harder than ever in a completely new remote platform (often without any guidance or leadership from administration), and, most of all, angry that the kids we love and support as educators are now poker chips in a giant societal gamble. Scared that our own health and the health of our families is treated as necessary collateral damage in a war with a virus about which we truly know so little.

      I would not be surprised to see large-scale, coordinated work stoppage by teachers, if districts and schools mandate returning to in-person classes in situations that are clearly unsafe. Honestly, I don’t know what would be safe. I’m not interested in gambling with my own children’s health. If I could jump to a fully remote teaching position, you can bet your ass I would do it without thinking twice.

      • 7

        My heart goes out to teachers. Ya’ll already aren’t treated well, and now this is just insane.

        How likely do you think mass walkouts are? What would districts/admins do in response?

      • 6

        Since TX doesn’t have true teacher unions and no teacher strikes it’s hard to imagine mass walkouts. In states where teachers can strike it’s hard to say for a different reason: they don’t want to be seen as abdicating a duty in the midst of a crisis.  Most teachers I know would be willing to take a bullet to save kids but where there is a massive lack of support on top of the lack of respect and defunding that’s been going on for years.  (Trying not to talk politics and run afoul of forum rules, not sure if I was successful.)

        What will be a problem is teachers retiring, teachers calling in sick more, a substitute shortage (which is constant already anyway).  I have two friends in their late 50s who had no intention of retiring this year but if the school goes to in person teaching they have their paperwork ready.  There will also be teachers quitting where they can afford to.  Some will stay home and homeschool their kids.  Many are in wait and see mode now.   Expect to see the articles in the fall about teacher shortages as well as high absenteeism from kids.  It’s going to be a mess any way you look at it.

      • 6

        My husband is a 61 year old high school teacher and we are going round and round about whether he can retire right now if in-person school is his only option this fall. He really shouldn’t retire till 66 if we want to maintain something close to our current modest lifestyle (keep our same house, etc.) and health insurance before Medicare kicks in (I’m only 49 and work only PT so that affects things too), but if his health and life possibly depends on it we could make it work by selling our home and finding a very cheap home with the equity.

        And he’s not the only one. I know quite a few teachers either leaving or thinking of retiring/leaving if it comes to their safety not being considered. I pray our governor in MN will do better than most because he is a former teacher himself.

      • 4

        If he’s 61 and has no co-morbidities and you feel you can both handle the stress then I say go back.  When it gets bad they will suspend in person classes anyway.  Does he have leave he can take to reduce time in the building?

        I came up with a 5 year plan when I was 55 and ended up retiring early at 57 and have no regrets even though some of my retirement plan includes doing Airbnb and in home dog boarding which are now much less than in non-covid times.

        Best of luck to you.

      • 3

        Dusty, he is most likely going to go back due to financial reasons and not being ready to give up yet. I think that of any employers schools are likely to be as careful as possible, and that they will likely close soon after opening if they do open at all. And if they don’t have to close again, that means things are going well and we’ll all be glad for it! One week from today our state (Minnesota) will announce the decision re: school opening, and I suspect our thinking will move forward a lot at that point. For now we just don’t even know…

        I’m glad you could retire so young! In a retirement meeting we learned teachers used to do that quite often, when health insurance wasn’t so outrageously expensive. I’m glad you’re able to make it work with AirBnB, etc. We’ve also thought of that type of thing. Being flexible is for sure the key to surviving this crazy time!

      • 1

        I hope things work out for him one way or the other.  I think you should have some confidence that if he feels he should retire that you will see things with new eyes whether it is spending less or doing different work.  I’ve only met one teacher who regretted retiring but she’s in a special situation with a bit of a slacker husband who never grew up.

    • 8

      If I were her, I’d quit my job and take care of your child at home. She could always go back to teaching later, teachers will always be in demand. I think your health and family connections would both benefit by doing this, and fortunately you can work from home. I just saw an article the other day about a study in Italy showing that 87% of those who had supposedly recovered from Covid still had serious symptoms two months later. And you can get it more than once. And he antibodies don’t last very long in most cases, often just a few weeks or months. At the beginning I thought like most people that you might as well get it, in most cases be sick for five days or so and then get well, with permanent immunity. But that seems to not be the case for a huge number of people. Every day I see the number of new cases for the day, and they are too large for me to comprehend. I think the disease is getting milder, though cases are exploding, but I think the longer you can delay getting it, the better your chances of emerging from this with your health and a future.

    • 4

      Is anyone else here taking the middle ground approach and basing the decision off your local/regional numbers as the deciding factor?

      Sadly most Americans are currently living in places that are seeing surges, or are in high risk areas, like urban centers. I personally would not send my kids back if I were in these areas if I could help it. We are in a different position though. We are living in a region where there is consistent decline/low covid activity (rural New England). in addition, our region is strong with masking and other precautions, which is probably why we are doing so well. our own local area is also a bit insulated being a rural community with few travelers and no nightlife/bars/gathering spaces to speak of. At this point, the biggest risk to our region isn’t current spread as much as it is people becoming complacent and travelers/returning residents importing virus from other areas.

      My understanding is that the experts like Dr. Fauci and the AAP are in support of opening schools in areas like ours (ie: ones with consistent declining/very low numbers for weeks/months prior to reopening). Our own town hasn’t had an active case in over 6 weeks and we still have another month to go before school. Provided things continue this way, I feel comfortable (enough) to send my kids to school.  That being said, I will not hesitate to switch to homeschool if the numbers turn. I’ve started stocking up on homeschooling supplies just in case.

      • 2

        In your situation I would also feel confident in sending kids to school etc., as long as everyone was wearing masks. I’m glad you will be on the alert for possible changes. Here in mid-Missouri, we had low rates, few cases, only one death for three months, but still locked down and closed schools and the university, which I think was appropriate. But then rates exploded. Still only up to three deaths in the county, but we’ve had a couple hundred cases, and there were 18 hospitalized in a city of 130,000 last week. They’re planning on both the public school and university level to offer a choice this fall between in-person classes with many measures, including masks (city mandate started just ten days ago, before that it was a recommendation without a penalty for lack of compliance) and distance learning. I think that’s good too, and we as well as every other community can observe, learn, and possibly drastically change course.

    • 5

      Chiming in again to share additional information re: teacher perspective.

      A collective letter is currently circulating among the independent school teacher community (non-sectarian private schools, that is) gathering support for a 100% remote opening at all schools. These schools are almost never unionized, so this push is especially interesting from a labor standpoint.

      Given the South Korean study released today showing 10+ year olds spread COVID just as much as adults, and those 9 and younger still spread at the rate of ~50% of adults, I’m going to predict a very loud pushback from teachers in the coming week or two.

      I know kids need to go back to school. I want my two kids back in school with their friends, and I sure as hell don’t want to be mucking my way through remote learning any longer than necessary. Cramps my style in a serious way. But I absolutely don’t want to my children or myself in the middle of a giant “Oh gee, we’ll see!” science experiment with the goal of getting shareholder profit back on top. Fuck. That. Noise.

      Parents advocating hard for a return to in-person instruction, I simply ask you this: What kind of an emotional/wellness environment do you think your kids will experience socially distant, wearing a mask all day, largely unable to move from their desks except for highly structured trips to the bathroom, and all of this overseen by stressed/terrified/angry teachers who are literally afraid for their lives?

      • 0

        I think we should allow choice and see how it goes. In most cases, teachers won’t be angry and resentful, but cheerful and wearing masks. If they were that resentful they wouldn’t be there. I resent paying teachers’ salaries if they’re not teaching.

        People adjust. Masks have become normal for us and everyone we see on the rare occasion we go out. At the supermarket and elsewhere social distancing has become second nature. I’m looking forward to seeing how contagion rates fall with the mask mandate. Most kids will be cooperative and comply with the new rules, and they can still interact with teachers and classmates, just at a distance.

        I would be surprised if distance learning worked very well for very many people, but I have seen how ineffectual in-person classes are as well. Those who are interested and willing will continue to learn by any means, also by homeschooling using non-school district materials or unschooling.

        University education has become outrageously expensive and really weird. I’m looking forward to a completely new system of higher education. Very amusing how some universities wouldn’t give refunds for dorm rooms vacated in the lockdown. I doubt many students or parents are going to be willing to pay thousands of dollars a semester for Zoom classes.

      • 3

        I understand you are speaking from the perspective of a teacher in hard hit and highly vulnerable NYC. I agree that opening schools in big cities and surging areas is a frightening prospect. But not everyone is in such a risky position. There ARE some limited areas of the country – like my own- that could safely attempt in person education on Sept 1 provided they do so with low covid activity in their communities coupled with strong evidence based precautions. In this case, the benefit of in person education for the kids and the community at large is likely to outweigh the risk of covid19 outbreaks. This position is in line with the recommendations of the AAP and other medical and epidemiological experts. In our region of northern New England, most of the people up here are essential workers who can’t work from home every day. They work in industries like forestry, retail, agriculture, infrastructure management, healthcare, and defense. Many of them can’t afford to have a parent quit their job to stay home without going bankrupt or requiring government benefits to survive. They can’t support remote learning, and there is no reason for them to if our region continues to stamp down covid over the rest of the summer.

        My kids are pre-k so either way they’ll do fine at home or in a safe pre-k set up. But others aren’t so lucky.

      • 4

        Here is the AAP position explained in summary on CNN if anyone is interested…

        https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/21/opinions/science-politics-children-reopen-schools-beers/index.html

      • 1

        That’s helpful. Thanks!

    • 3

      For those who are considering homeschooling, you might appreciate https://cathyduffyreviews.com/ for reviews of all kinds of curriculum materials from a long-time veteran homeschooling parent.

      We were planning on homeschooling our new kindergartner, so that’s not changing, ha. Just gathering more resources in case they aren’t as available later. Buying a few more books to have on hand at home in case the library closes down again and we can’t get more. Extra school supplies from the store sales that have now started. That kind of thing. Still working on how we’ll keep the toddler occupied.

      But overall we’re fortunate – my husband can work from home as long as he needs; my super-part-time job is also from home, and though it’s challenging, I can wrangle the kids full time. I feel deeply for the folks who have more limited options.

      • 2

        Buying more books is probably a good idea. I hadn’t considered there may be a shortage with more parents choosing homeschooling. I guess that’s considered a prep now!

      • 2

        Smart on the books! We are homeschoolers and I recently went online to buy my son’s books for the school year – very common, classic books and found the prices to be through the roof. A couple of the books, normally around $5, were $30! 

    • 4

      Saw this on FB and thought it was a simple but great idea.

      fb

      If the text is too small:

      For parents worried their kids won’t be able to wear masks for long periods of time this Fall, try this rule for your last few weeks of summer: You’re only allowed screen time if you’re wearing a mask. Either they will acclimate quickly, or you’ll get them off devices for the last weeks of their summer. I’ve got my money on them acclimating and your kid’s teacher having a much easier first week of school.

      • 1

        Pretty much the only bargaining chip parents have now, but I can see it working!

    • 1

      As one of the few here who sent their kids back to 100% in person learning (when our area had particularly low numbers), I wanted to provide a quick update on how we are doing.

      Our state has rising cases like much of the rest of the country, but we are still in one of the better positions relative to most others. Our preschool age kids have been in school since Sept 1. To date, sending them back was definitely the right decision. There has yet to be a positive case in their school, and the surrounding community has quashed the few cases identified in the older kids’ schools without any outbreaks. New cases around here are still >80% adult infections that appear to be driven by group gatherings and family clusters. So for Sept-Oct, our local schools were definitely safe for students.

      The next few months are going to be touch and go, and we are considering pulling the kids out for a few weeks if the local numbers get bad. Our schools have strict protocols in place so I am not concerned about the schools dropping the ball and causing an outbreak, so much as I am concerned that they will get a surge of cases caused by families getting infected elsewhere. I’m particularly nervous about December and early January because of the holidays.

      Hope everyone else is hanging in there!