Is virtual learning the only way to keep our families and educators safe—or does the possibility of stunted social development in our children pose a greater risk?
Whether or not to go back to school is a controversial issue affecting millions of Americans this year. With so many unknowns and changing statistics, who can be certain that they’re making the right choice for their family?
Despite its ubiquity, it’s an isolating question, and many feel like they’ve been abandoned to make a potentially fatal decision on their own. But that’s where we can turn to mommy bloggers for first-hand experience and insights. They’re a group of people who spend their lives advocating for children’s rights, working directly with educators, and sharing these experiences to their trusting readers.
We asked 11 motherhood bloggers to share their concerns about sending—or not sending—their children back to school during COVID-19. The responses we received from these parenting pros were nothing short of thoughtful, and they simultaneously consoled and challenged us, while helping us to see the bigger picture.
We’ve shared their insights below.
“Where will they put their masks when they take them off to eat?”
Jenna Greenspoon: Savvy Sassy Moms
“In our house, there are a lot of concerns surrounding going back to school. When the pandemic began it led to online learning, which was difficult to say the least. For my eldest, not being able to work one-on-one with his teacher and not being able to ask questions in the moment made learning very difficult. From [there], along with other factors, I made the decision to send him to a new school once in-class learning became possible again.
Now that we are at the beginning of school, we are faced with the beginning of a new school year in a new environment, with a new set of children. This alone has raised lots of concerns– from being placed in a carpool with other children to finding ways to make new friends with masks on and limited time to play. For both my kids, sending them to school—where they are no longer being monitored—raises anxiety about staying safe. Where will they put their masks when they take them off to eat? Will they end up on the floor beside their desk? Will they wash their hands before they eat? And the list goes on.
While I am sending my kids back to school because I feel that it is essential for them to be with their peers and to learn in a school environment, I definitely have concerns about them being safe and wonder how long they will remain in school safely.”
“I don't want to put that pressure on my son.”
Nicole Etolen: Pretty Opinionated
“I opted to send my teenager to cyber school this year. My mom lives with us and she's technically a ‘senior citizen.’ Don't tell her I said that, though! Our area was hit pretty hard for a suburb. Half of NYC lives here on weekends, and they didn't stop coming even when they were a hot zone So, I just don't feel like in-person instruction is a responsible decision right now for my area. I also think about how my son would feel if he got infected, then gave it to my mom and she ended up dying. I don't think enough parents are considering that, to be honest. We can tell our kids ‘it's not your fault’ all we want, but they would carry that with them for the rest of their lives nonetheless. As the only person who currently leaves our house, I think about that all of the time—how devastated I would be if I managed to bring it home and it cost someone I love their life. I don't want to put that pressure on my son. So, cyber school just feels like the most responsible decision for us.”
“The unknown of the 2020 school year is the biggest concern...”
Meagan Clanahan: Houston Mom Blog
“At this point, our biggest concern (besides the obvious of one of our children contracting COVID-19), is beginning face-to-face instruction and the ‘new normal’, only to have schools shut down again if cases rise. Our children have had so much uncertainty in their schooling the past six months. I would hate to see them get into a routine for in-person only to find themselves back in front of a computer screen. The unknown of the 2020 school year is the biggest concern and point of sleeplessness these days.”
“As a teacher, I know the concerns and risks...”
Jennifer O’Shea: Teach Workout Love
“As a teacher, I know the concerns and risks about sending my child back to school. However, I also know that teachers and staff members have taken considerable measures to try to do the best they can to keep all students safe in this time of uncertainty. I do feel like she will be safe if the guidelines that the schools are putting out are being followed. It's important that everyone follows those guidelines so kids can have some sort of normalcy back in their lives and we can try to function in our ‘new normal’ for now.”
“My main concern is the unknown.”
Chloe Arnold: Beyond Blessed Blog
“My main concern is the unknown. I've read mixed reviews on possible side effects of COVID-19 in children, and in my opinion, it's just not worth the risk. We've also decided not to send our toddler to daycare this fall because, in October, we are having a baby. With a newborn in the house we just want to limit any exposure to the unknown.”
“...the risk to their mental health and future would be greater”
Jen Walshaw: Mum in the Mad House
“I have tried hard not to have too many concerns about sending my boys back to school. They are both in senior school and are pretty responsible. I don't want to pass on any feelings I have to them! However, we have implemented precautions, such as making sure they have a shower when they get home from school and that they regularly use hand sanitizer and wash their hands as often as they can. I feel that as 14 and 15 year olds the risk to their mental health and future would be greater by not sending them into school. Research seems to show that their age group can handle the virus, and they are at such a pivotal point in their education and lives that I want to try and look positively toward the future. Their school has taken lots of precautions and is making sure that the staff and pupils are all as safe as can be. So, rather than concentrate on the ‘can'ts,’ we are choosing to concentrate on the ‘cans.’”
“I place prioritizing the safety of my children above all.”
Alexandra Rushing: City Chic Living
"This school year has been a doozy! Not only is my oldest starting Kindergarten, I am a single mom, running a full time business as the founder of popular mom blog, City Chic Living, and starting my first semester in my PhD program! Did I mention I also have a two-year-old that is out of daycare due to COVID-19? Being a working parent or a parent who is also attending school during the current climate has forced us all to brush up on our multi-tasking skills—wearing 5 hats at once, while also struggling to keep our sanity. Of course, the stress levels are through the roof, yet I place prioritizing the safety of my children above all. I agree with homeschooling for the time being, but as soon as the cases subside, time to get back to the life we all took for granted! Our children need social/ peer settings to properly develop cognitively and socially!”
“My husband is immune compromised…”
Jenn Mitchell: Comeback Momma
“We are lucky to live in a state with pretty strict guidelines. The high school where my children attend will only be allowing one grade to attend a full week of classes every four weeks. This allows the building to have a very manageable number of students in the school at any one time and provides the students a chance to connect with friends and teachers. The school will be very strict about mask wearing, temperature testing and contact tracing. My husband is immune compromised, but we trust that this return to school will be a safe one. If COVID-19 rates change within our school district, or even our state, our governor will not hesitate to mandate a change for in person classes. I support whatever decision any family makes. This is a challenging time, and I don’t want anyone to feel shame over what will work best for their families.”
“Better safe, then sorry!”
Brandiann Garfold: Momma Review
“Unfortunately, my little ones are too young to be in school. So, I fortunately don’t have to make the difficult decision parents are faced with in regards to COVID-19. If they were in school, I would probably be homeschooling them and not sending them in. I prefer to always air on the side of caution. My motto is “Better safe, than sorry!” I know some parents don’t have the luxury to work from home and school their children also. I, on the other hand, am able to both work from home and teach my oldest her Pre-K curriculum. There’s a delicate balance, and we make it work. Schedules have become our best friends!”
“...the social/emotional consequences of not returning to school.
Holly Duce: Mommies With Cents
At this point I am more concerned with the social/emotional consequences of not returning to school. While I still have concerns about children and staff, I feel like the ‘rewards’ outweigh the risks as long as proper safety measures are in place. For my family personally, we now have the option of returning to school or continuing with the online education program. My kids will be returning to school and are very much looking forward to it.
“...we cannot control the things we can't control…”
Nikita Stanley and Aleks Jassem: The Rebel Mama
We are of the mind frame that we cannot control the things we can't control—so, why stress?We are keeping calm and sending our kids to school safely. We have taken all the necessary precautions to make sure all safety guidelines are met and have equipped them with the emotional vocabulary to tell us how it's going. That's all we can do for now! We're both working moms with no childcare options and need this win. And if it all goes to shit, we will figure it out then.
“We never know what can happen tomorrow.”
Ellen Oliveira: Young Love Mommy
“I will be sending my six-year-old son to school full time, my concerns are the same as everyone else's and full of what ifs? But I can't let that stop our lives from continuing. We never know what can happen tomorrow. We can be prudent and do our due diligence but not stop living. I'm mostly concerned with their mental well being. They've been taken out of school and held at home without a full grasp of the circumstances, and it's sad to see it happen. I can't let fear of the unknown hold him or us back.”
Hearing from these experienced parents and motherhood experts really puts the issue into perspective! We feel so much more equipped to make a decision and trust ourselves.
But now we want to hear how you feel. What are your concerns about sending or not sending children back to school during COVID-19? Let us know by leaving a comment below.