With schools on the verge of reopening in Oregon, you may be wondering whether this is the right time to send your child back to school. What are some of the risks? What are some of the benefits? The stress of an uncertain future can weigh heavily on any parent’s mind, and it can feel difficult trying to decide whether your child’s education is worth the risk of exposure to the virus.
There is no right or wrong answer. Ultimately, it depends on what you think is the best for your family. However, knowing some of the pros and cons can help you make this difficult decision.
Educational instruction. It may seem obvious, but one of the biggest pros to returning to school is the classroom instruction. Teachers are trained professionals who create lesson plans, know what educational material to use, and teach it well while focusing on students who may be struggling. Unless you are a teacher or are focused on homeschooling, recreating that educational environment may be challenging on top of other things you need to do. Schools are places of learning, ensuring kids receive the best education they can offer.
Social interactions. One of the most challenging aspects of quarantine for kids and adults has been the lack of social connections. They are meant to socialize and build communication skills by interacting with their peers, but being unable to see their friends has left many children feeling isolated and anxious. Returning to school will give them the opportunity to socialize and learn essential verbal and nonverbal skills.
Structured learning. Though schools have done their best to create structure over online platforms, classroom learning provides a different classroom routine and expectation. Children learn best when they have a schedule, and at home, they may not experience a lot of that routine with either too much time or too little time on their hands. In-person educational instructions can ensure students are learning the material in a focused environment.
Parents don’t have to juggle homeschooling and work! Without childcare, figuring out homeschooling and working full-time from home can be very stressful. If you have multiple children, it can feel overwhelming trying to help them all with their homework or teach them something they did not understand from their online class. It can put a heavy strain on your mental health and leave you little time for self-care. Sending your child back to school will undoubtedly alleviate that stress and provide you more time to focus on your work and daily life.
Increased risk of contracting COVID-19. It’s a real risk, especially with children who don’t think about social distancing. It’s a known fact even before the pandemic that young children spread germs quickly without thinking twice about it. Though it has been shown that young children are relatively immune to the disease, it is unknown if they can spread it to others without showing any symptoms. Sending your child back to school will certainly increase you and your family’s risk of exposure to COVID-19.
With vaccinated teachers, their risk of catching the virus and becoming ill is much lower. However, it is not impossible. Some experts also say that it may be possible to still spread the virus even with the vaccine. Sending your child back to school will certainly increase you and your family’s risk of exposure to COVID-19. If you live with family members who have any medical conditions, this may be a crucial con to consider.
Possible lack of school preparedness. As comprehensive as some district reopening plans may sound, the reality may not always work out the same way. There will be a need for more resources, sanitation materials, increased classroom space, and possibly extra staff needed to maintain social distancing and learning. Does your school have a safety plan in place? What will they do if a student tests positive for COVID or starts exhibiting symptoms? It’s important to consider how prepared your school district is and if they have the necessary funds to provide a safe and sanitized school environment.
Though there are more pros than cons on this list, the increased risk of contracting COVID-19 is a crucial factor to consider. Other factors are your child’s physical health, emotional well-being, age, any special needs, school safety, and your family’s health. This is a daunting decision families need to make individually, but whether you decide to send your child back to school or not, you are doing the best for your family and can only take things one day at a time.
Emily currently lives in Orange County, California after spending four years in Illinois and half a year teaching in Florence, Italy. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from Knox College and an M.A. in Counseling from the University of San Diego and has taught English to native speakers and ESL students for over three years. When she’s not working as a School Counselor or writing, she enjoys traveling the world, playing instruments, and blogging about Millennial experiences at Long Live the Twenties.