The 2020 school year will be different.
If we’ve learned anything from Spring, it’s that things can change quickly. Never did I imagine that when we left school in March that we’d be where we are now. It is scary and stressful, mostly because things are still unknown. So, what is the 2020 school year going to look like?
I think that answer will be partially based on geography and partially based on parent choice. Some parents may not have a choice. It also may change as time goes on.
No matter what your decision, it is the right one for your family. There is no wrong choice because we are all learning, struggling, and trying to do what is best during these uncertain times. We all have different circumstances that inform our decisions, and we shouldn’t judge each other.
It all feels hard.
So, I’m sharing my family’s decision just to give you one perspective. I am not saying I’ve made the right choice for anyone else, and I’ve second guessed our own choice many times. However, after much debate, conversation, research, and thought, this is what is going to work for our family during the 2020 school year.
School District Options
Our school district made the 2020 school year decision on Tuesday, August, 11th after a very long board meeting. Before the vote was called, they had a task force recommendation (a group that met a few times this summer,) a parent survey, and a teacher survey.
The options up for debate and vote were:
- Face to Face (F2F) learning 5 days a week, with a virtual option for anyone
- Hybrid schedule: First half of the alphabet 2 days a week, deep cleaning day on Wednesday, second half of the alphabet last 2 days with virtual learning 3 days a week. Also, a complete virtual option.
- Complete Virtual learning
In addition, they wanted to vote on creating a health task force, which would watch community transmission and make recommendations going forward.
Before the meeting, the task force favored the hybrid schedule by a small majority, while the parent survey leaned toward full F2F. The teacher survey was in favor of the virtual option.
The school district did create a comprehensive reopening plan, which looked at community health data and included safety protocols.
After some heated debate and community input, the board voted 4 to 3 in favor of F2F learning, with the school start date being pushed from September 1st to September 8th. The first 4 days of school would follow the hybrid model, with each half of the alphabet attending for 2 days to get used to new safety procedures and protocols.
Masks would be required for both students and teachers. Full virtual learning would be available to everyone, and the start date would be September 8th. The health task force was also approved.
Families were then asked to make their decision within 5 days.
Our Family Decision
While 5 days may seem like a short time to make such a huge decision, I’m fairly sure that families had been debating their own decisions all summer.
I know I had.
The board wanted to wait as long as possible to see how our community was doing with COVID cases while still allowing schools to get ready in time for the 2020 school year. It’s really a tight schedule for everyone involved.
So, leading up to the meeting, I had been doing my research. I watched a town hall meeting with doctor’s from our children’s hospital and read article after article from disease specialists. I read through the district plan, and was impressed at how thorough it was. From the mask requirement and drinking fountain removal to the classroom spacing and new lunch/specials protocols, they really went through everything.
In addition to my kids’ physical health, I also wanted to take into account their mental health. To be completely honest, mine too. Virtually learning last Spring was very hard on all of us.
Our final decision: F2F
So, here are the basics of how we came to our decision:
- Our kids are healthy – Our children’s hospital doctors agree with all of the current health data: COVID is usually mild in children with normal immune systems.
- Our school is taking every precaution – The mask requirement was a huge factor for me. I believe in the science behind their use. We also have good ventilation, windows, and distancing measures in place.
- Community transmission is low – While our State still does not have a downward trend, our city has the lowest percent of transmission in our County. Our percentage is also below the recommendation for F2F learning.
- Social interaction – While it will be different, my boys, especially Mr. B, need their friends. Even in masks and socially distant, they will still get to be with their friends. They will get to play outside for recess and play together after school. We’ve been allowing the boys to play with a few friends, who are also going back to the same F2F, so to take that away would be devastating.
- Structure – The twins need the structure of the classroom and a schedule.
- Teacher instruction – While this may also be different, I think being in the same room as their teacher will be so beneficial. Mr. B struggles with math and really needs someone who can help in person.
- Work – My husband is an essential worker, so virtual learning falls to me exclusively. I have gone back to teaching dance, so having the boys in school will make things easier.
Even though it is a huge change having the kids go back to interacting with lots of other children, it doesn’t mean we are going back to “normal” life in every other aspect. We are still going to stay socially distant as much as possible, wear masks, and do everything we can to stay healthy.
I will be driving the boys to and from school to cut down on interactions on the bus. We will not be doing any fall sports or indoor activities in person. I’m not going back to the gym, we’re not eating at restaurants, and I’m still trying to do store pick up as much as possible.
We are all trying to stay healthy. The boys are getting daily vitamins, have had their teeth cleaned, their eyes checked, and physicals are scheduled. Flu vaccines are happening as soon as possible.
Once school starts, we are going to have to make sure to be careful around both sets of grandparents. If we are still F2F school around the holiday time, we will have to take some time off school to quarantine, if want to gather.
Everything Can Still Change
No matter how much we prepare or what decision we make, things can still change at any moment. I’m trying to remember that, to be flexible and open.
Like I said before, it’s all hard. I do wish I had a crystal ball and could see what is going to happen in 6 months. Heck, I’d take 6 days right now.
I’m just hoping for the best and doing my best. My wish is the same for all of you and your families.
Great post! It sounds like your schools are doing everything they can to make it a safe learning environment and that’s wonderful. Hopefully cases will keep staying low and it’ll be a good Fall for all the kids. I know it has to be tough for kids being away from normal routines and their friends. I don’t understand why people have to shame other parents for decisions they make – it’s up to YOU to make the right decision for your kid and your family. And sometimes families really don’t have a choice in what they do – they have to send their kid to school if it’s open, etc. I like to think MOST people – parents or not – are doing their best!
Thank you so much Lauren. That means a lot.