By Abbie Cornett
This is the week my youngest daughter and I have been looking forward to for years: her first year of high school. I can honestly say this was not what either of us had anticipated. Registration was online, freshmen orientation was a Zoom call, and getting her books meant sitting in line in our car for two hours.
While classes in our school district are strictly online, this doesn't mean our experience will be any more or less strange than those kids and parents whose school districts are having in-person classes or a hybrid of in-person and online instruction. Whatever your district has chosen, it is fair to say it will take some getting used to for everyone involved.
As a parent with an immune disorder, I have been very conflicted about the right answer for my daughter. I have had to seriously weigh what is best for her and the family. In the past few months, I have watched her go from a very outgoing girl involved in karate, robotics, Girl Scouts and orchestra, to being a semi-introverted anxious mess. And she isn't the only one! Most of her friends are displaying similar behaviors. I know part of this is because she is 14 years old and transitioning to high school, but part of it is months of social distancing and worry over how the school year will work.
In a way, I was happy when the district made the decision for me about how school would be conducted and chose remote learning only. While I think the decision was in everyone's (including my daughter's) best interest, it certainly isn't going to be easy. I am not sure how I or any other parent is going to manage working full time and being the primary educator for my child, or how I am going to keep her from becoming more isolated!
I don't think parents whose children are going back to in-person learning are going to have it any easier. In most cases, their children are going to return to a very different school than they remember. Districts that have chosen to return to in-person learning have had to significantly reduce class sizes to maintain safe distancing, place partitions between desks, eliminate lunchtime hangouts with friends, and cancel most sports and clubs.
Parents need to realize that regardless of which platform their child's school has implemented, it is going to be stressful for everyone involved. Children take their cues from their parents. This means parents need to focus on the positives. If your child is going back to in-person learning, focus on them being able to see their teachers and friends. If they are learning online, emphasize the fact that they get to spend time with you and don't have to adhere to a strict schedule. Most importantly, talk to your child and let him or her know you are there.