What Are You Doing for the School Year? Hybrid learning or distance learning (100% virtual)? There’s no easy answer or decision.
This question has been on my mind for the past several weeks and even after making a decision, I honestly can’t say I feel good about it.
How is everyone doing? This past week was hard and stressful. Not only was there horror and devastation this week in Beirut, but also here in the United States, I can’t put my finger on it exactly but there was also an unsettling feeling with everything going on around us. Michelle Obama shared in her new podcast that she’s suffering from low-grade depression; you can read more about it here but I agree with her on every level.
I found myself back to waking up in the middle of the night with all the back-to-school stress in my head. As of right now, we (here in my school district in PA) do have the option of sending our kids back to school, twice a week, in a hybrid model or going 100% virtual. From what I’ve read online, most of the teachers don’t feel safe and don’t want to go back .. but then there are also teachers who do want to go back and see the importance in being back in the classroom. I do believe teachers need a voice and need to be supported 100%.
What Are You Doing for the School Year?
The end of August marks about one year that we’ve been here in PA. I can’t believe it’s been a year. And right about the time where my kids were starting to get comfortable and really make some friends, we went into quarantine. This might seem really silly and trivial but the big reason I’d want to send my kids back is for socialization, their mental health and to get back into some sort of routine that gets them out of this apartment.
For those who may be new here to my blog, we moved to PA from Wisconsin and are living in an apartment complex temporarily until our new house is built and complete. This process has obviously been extended and has taken much longer than originally anticipated. We still have 65% (maybe more) of our stuff in storage in Wisconsin.
Making friends here has not been easy for my kids. We don’t have a yard to play in, or friends that my kids can go see down the street. During the school year, it was fine. They were happy and making new friends and things were great.
Since mid-March, we’ve had one playdate and, on a separate occasion, have gotten together with friends at their house once. My kids have had very little in-person interaction with other kids. We have FaceTime calls with my extended family, their cousins. Most of my oldest daughters’ friends’ parents aren’t allowing their children out to play at all, and I totally understand. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic. And I don’t know any of Madeline’s former classmates’ parents well enough to reach out for a playdate.
We are still social distancing and all of this, everything, well, it’s starting to wear on the kids, on me, on everyone. My only saving grace is my workout studio. Being able to get out and go exercise has been a gift.
When given the opportunity to fill out a survey for school, I initially jumped at the chance to send my kids back to school, in masks. I just want them to be around other kids. I want them to be in a classroom and meet their teachers. But then I stopped and thought about it. How will being at school, social distancing, staying 6 feet away from others, wearing masks, really be? Do their teachers want to be there? Is it better to keep them home safe? Do we just pray, make the best of the situation and stay at home until November, or maybe even longer?
My kids are happy kids. I’m grateful for that. They are healthy and they are strong, and they are okay but they need to play and be with other kids. I know all of this is temporary. We just have to be strong. I have been praying that some of the other families in our new neighborhood have children (girls) their age. We should be in the new house by the end of the year.
I don’t have any answers here. I do have a call scheduled with Madeline’s principal on Monday, just to get her opinion. For elementary school students, if you choose hybrid, you can switch to virtual at any time, but then if you do that, your kid gets assigned to a new teacher and new class. I do want to try and keep the year as consistent as possible for Madeline. For Phoebe, in middle school, if you switch to virtual, you retain your same teachers and same class schedule.
This all might be for nothing. Many school districts around us, here in PA, that were once going to open with hybrid options have now switched over and are only opening with the 100% virtual option. So this may very well happen to us and then the decision will be made for everyone. Our first day of school has been pushed to August 31st so there’s a full three weeks where things can easily change.
As parents, we need to be supportive and non-judgmental towards friends who share what they are doing. Not all of us are going to move forward this school year the same way and that’s ok. Every family situation is different. Every child/kid out there is different, learns and thrives differently etc. There’s so much more going on behind the scenes so let’s not be judgmental and let’s be supportive.
How I’m Going To Move Forward
I still don’t know what we’re doing. I’m going to wait until I have that call on Monday. I do know that – no matter what decision is made – I am going to focus on how I can be a better mother and better emotional support system for my daughters.
I am headed to the beach this week for a mini getaway with my daughters. We just need to get away for a bit. We need a change of scenery and to breathe in some fresh air. We won’t be seeing anyone or hanging out with anyone, or doing anything really. But we are headed to Stone Harbor, NJ, Wednesday through Friday, and hope to have one clear, sunny day where we can go to the beach.
If you have any advice to give or want to share what you are doing, please leave a comment below. If you are a teacher or school administrator, I’d love to hear from you! Thank you all for reading, this is going to be a very different school year for us all but I will move forward with positivity and strength!
Lastly, I just want to say that sometimes just writing things out here. . the process helps me sometimes. . and the only reason I share it here, because it’s personal and subject to judgement, the only reason I share all of this is to connect with you all, and maybe even start a conversation.
Update and final decision: after the call with our elementary school principal, we are staying home and doing distance learning (100% virtual school). For our school, this will give Madeline more opportunity in working in smaller groups, sometimes, even one -on-one with a classmate partner; so she can get to know other kids in her class and gives her more time with her teacher. Kids will not be working in pairs or small groups in the hybrid model. The hybrid model at our school was in school for 2 days and asynchronous learning for 3 days. For Phoebe, my middle schooler, all of her friends are doing virtual and she wanted to do virtual.