By Abbie Cornett
Tonight is the night before the first day of school for my youngest child. While it is technically the beginning of her sophomore year, it is the first time she will have been to her high school as a student. In fact, it will be the first time she has been inside a school in a year and a half.
Unlike many kids, she excelled at online learning, maintaining all A and A+ grades. You would think a kid who loves to learn would be excited to return to school, but she isn't! She is stressed beyond belief. She absolutely doesn't want to go back to in-person school. She is riddled with anxiety and is afraid of bringing COVID-19 home to her father or me.
If she is that afraid and anxious, you probably wonder why I am making her return to school. To tell you the truth, I have no idea if I am doing the right thing. My husband and I have thought about nothing else for weeks. Our dilemma is this: How do we balance her physical health with her mental health? Before the pandemic, she was a bold, outgoing, ambitious young woman who was active in sports, robotics and music. She had planned on being on the homecoming court and graduating at the top of her class.
After two years of isolation, she has changed. While she still plans to graduate at the top of her class, she is no longer bold! She suffers from anxiety when we are in public and doesn't like to leave the house. Her self-image is poor, and she no longer wants to be active in sports or music.
My husband and I are not alone in this quandary. All around the country, people are trying to weigh what is best for their family and themselves when it comes to deciding how to approach life during the Pandemic. Every day, all of us must make tough decisions about what is best for our physical and mental health. Humans by nature are social creatures. We need contact as much as we need food and water to survive. But, COVID-19 has made us choose between exposing our self to needed human contact and the virus or protecting our health and remain in isolation.
We decided the effects of isolation are more of a threat to her mental health than the danger of COVID-19 on her physical health. This decision means we will be dropping a very reluctant 15-year-old at school in the morning. But this doesn't mean our decision is set in stone. We are going to play a wait-and-see game. If our daughter doesn't do mentally or physically well with in-person school, we are ready to transition back to online learning.
The critical thing to remember is everyone is facing different struggles with COVID-19. It is not our place to judge other people's decisions about what is suitable for them or their families. We can't judge how the pandemic is affecting them. I certainly never thought I would be sitting here doubting whether sending my child to school would be the right thing!