The below post originally appeared on The Local Moms Network. As you read it, you’ll see that back-to-school decisions for the moms in our network have been as different as the suburbs we serve! The commonality is that we’re all doing what works best in our own individual situations and for our families. Before I post the full article with you, I wanted to share what we’ve decided to do in our house. As many of you know, I have two daughters – Isabelle is 3 1/2 and Abby is 1. We made the decision to send Isabelle back to her Preschool Three’s program based on the low infection rate in our area, the desire to have her in a routine (she thrives in school!), and to be around other kids. This is her 3rd year in our school and we feel very comfortable with the protocols the school has in place. Abby will continue to stay home with me, but will be joining an outdoor music class for the fall. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that by September 2021, Abby will start Preschool Two’s under a much different climate!
Throughout our country, “back to school” looks different than it ever has. Some kids are going back in-person. Some are virtual learning. And some are doing a hybrid model. Wonder what others are doing? So did we. So we asked a few of the over one hundred moms of The Local Moms Network what they were doing—see below. As you would expect, there is a wide variety of ways our moms are doing school! And whatever version of school you are doing this year, please remember that it’s unlikely that any choice is going to feel “right” this year, so please give yourself and your fellow moms grace!
Laura Sylvester of The North Shore Moms
Kids: Cole (turning 4 in September)
“Cole will be entering the 4s program at his preschool. As of right now his preschool will be in-person. In our area of Massachusetts we are still waiting for many of the public school districts to announce their plans for the Fall. His preschool is private so their plan may differ from the public school, but we really don’t know for sure yet.
Our plan is to send Cole to preschool in-person if it is available. His school has cut the class sizes down to 9 students per class, rented out extra space to accommodate more classes of this smaller size, and are taking extra safety precautions. It’s so hard to know what the right thing to do is, and my comfort level with in-person school changes daily, but Cole is an only child and is really missing the interaction with other kids. Currently the transmission rates in our area are low, but if they spike I may rethink our plan.”
Roselyn Andrade of North Phoenix Moms
Kids: Noah (1st Grade) & Ezra (7th grade)
“Ezra (my “bonus” child) is 12 and currently is virtual learning. He is in a different district then my 1st grader because he lived with his mom primarily. Even though he misses his friends, he is able to login and chat with his teachers and friends during the day. He says it’s going really well, that he likes it but wishes he could go back…
Noah is my first grader; he was enrolled in a school district that took away in person option until 10/18/20. As a full time employee that did not sit well for me. They wanted him to be on from 8 to 3. I work from 6 am to 2:30 pm. The end of last year ended with virtual learning and it did not go well for us. So I started exploring other options in my community! Luckily I was able to enroll him in a charter school that will allow in person beginning 08/17/20. This schools has procedures in place for COVID- 19. So I am electing for him to return on campus at the earliest time possible. Noah is an extrovert just like his momma. He needs the interaction and discipline and routine. I am confident in my decision.”
Nikkie Hancock of Kingwood Moms
Kids: Lola (1st grade) and Barrett (Preschool 4)
“We are doing virtual for the first 2 weeks for the entire school district after that parents can choose to leave the kids online or they can go in-person. Lola and Barrett will be at home longer than the 2 weeks. It could be another month or the entire semester until I can feel comfortable with the current situation and procedures in place. I am happy the school district is giving the parents the opportunity to choose. Barrett normally goes to a Mother’s Day Out Program but I decided to pull him and keep him at home for the time being.
Listen to your Mom gut if you are on the fence or second-guessing your decisions you know what is best for your family. That is ok if your friends choose something different than you it doesn’t make them right or wrong, it is what’s best for that family. Don’t judge a family based on what they choose. Either way, it is not an easy decision to make.”
Karen Horn of Cleveland Eastside Moms
Kids: Michael (Grade 6) and Mia (Grade 1)
“My kids attend private school. We are extremely blessed to be able to have a choice to send them in person or at home. We chose in person because my son needs the structure of in class accountability and it’s his first year in Middle School. Most public schools around us are strictly virtual for now, so I’m very grateful that we have the option and to be able to make a choice that is right for our kids!”
Elle Leek of Irvinemomsnetwork.com
Kids: Tyler (5th Grade)
“After the 4th of July, when we discovered the news from the Governor that we would not be returning back to school this fall, we were disappointed, to be honest. But we understand the decision to do so. We started to do our homework and find different resources to help guide us. Now we are looking forward to it. As of right now, I am setting short term goals. For instance, looking at it in semesters and then accessing what worked and hwat didn’t. Having great online resources to help parents is so key, such as free math lessons from Mathnasium@home and Outschool & Varsity Tutor to help supplement with enrichment elective classes.”
Shawn Culbert of Lincoln Park Area Moms Network
Kids: Finn (Kindergarten) and Bailey (Second Grade)
“When we decided to move, we ultimately settled on Kenilworth, Illinois based on the small school size and the back to school plan. I was told that it would be a Hybrid. Students would be in person within small pods, 5 days a week from 9:19-1:10pm, followed by at home remote in the afternoon. We actually moved into our new home this week and when I called to be sure I had gathered everything to register my children, I was told they would have to be in the remote learning group. Yes, I said group—because most students will be in the Hybrid program, but the school doesn’t have the space to accommodate the entire grades my children are in… Not only am I shocked that the school district finds that a first-come first served approach works or is fair, but also that there is no possible way that in person learning will be as beneficial as remote.
Like most parents, I’m freaking out! I think we’re now in a unique situation though with the way the district we moved into is handling the situation though and that puts a whole new stress on an already impossible situation. My oldest son was in the process of being tested for ADHD when everything shut down in March. He’s a very smart little guy, but very active. He was previously attending a public Montessori in our neighborhood, which we had also moved to be a part of. Setting him up for the best possible outcome for us a family has been part of life since he began to move! If you have a child with ADD or ADHD, you know what I’m talking about! As you can imagine going fully remote without any of the classroom tools they use in Montessori was entirely a different way to learn for him though- and a disaster! On top of that we were within Chicago Public Schools which is an enormous school system. I don’t blame his teachers at all, but remote in the spring was an awful experience and I knew he would not get the attention needed with remote learning this year, so we made the decision to move. What I’ve been told is that each class will log on with a designated teacher each day and the remote learning will mimic what happens in the classroom. Even going into this with the most positive attitude, I can’t imagine the few students at home will be getting the same education than in person within groups of 12, but we’ll see! It’s all an experiment at this point, right?
What I can say is that after a day of tears and anger after hearing the new plan for fall, we had to move on and make the best of it. We took our children to the beach last night and as we sat watching them run in the waves we thought—maybe remote won’t be so bad. If anything it will give us the ability to move the classroom wherever we would like! Rather than wonder when we’ll be back to “normal” and dwell on it, we can create our own un-normal adventure this semester. Road trips, new extracurricular activities, beach days, early ski season- we’ll make it fun and hope for the best! I have to keep reminding myself that this is a short period of time in the scheme of things. We will make it to the other side and how we react to each challenge is really what our kids are going to absorb the most.”
Stefanie Horn of Stamford Moms
Kids: Johnnie (3) and Bobbi (9 months)
“We decided to send Johnnie to preschool instead of back to a full time daycare program this school year. Bobbi will be home. We feel that a small preschool that is only a few hours a day, a few days a week is the most comfortable option for us this school year. We did not feel comfortable sending the kids back to a large daycare setting, but we still want Johnnie to experience a preschool three’s program and to spend time with other kids! This school year it’s all about finding what you’re comfortable with and what works best for your family!”