Monday Coffee Talk | COVID Confessions & Back to School

Monday, July 27, 2020

I can't believe how fast the weekends fly by! Hope you had a great one. :)

We took an afternoon trip to our hometown (the first in 6 months!) to celebrate our nephew's first birthday -- he's such a cutie. On the day he was born, Steve, Carrie, Haddie and I (with Isabelle in my very large belly at that point!) all drove to meet him and met up with my mom for a quick dinner at a nearby diner before we went to the hospital. Turned out the diner's air conditioning was broken, which only really became apparent once we were seated and began sweating profusely as we ordered our meals. It was an extremely hot, sticky July day and I'll never forget that little adventure! ;) He was such a sweet little bundle and my sister-in-law was a champion.


For today's Monday Coffee Talk, I thought I'd share a little bit of what's been on my mind and heart related to a very complicated, confusing, and emotionally-loaded topic for many parents right now: back to school. And up front, I want you to know that if you're in the same boat with school-aged kids, I see you, feel for you, and understand how tough this is. I want you to know, because I know you've second-guessed yourself, that I believe that whatever you decide is the best decision for your family and one made with so much love and so, so, so much thought.

From what I've read, heard from others, and generally understand, each district is structuring their back-to-school plans very differently. I have friends whose districts aren't doing much of anything different except for requiring the kids and staff to wear masks, but otherwise it'll be a full 5 day schedule. I know of people whose districts have decided to go 100% virtual, with no in-person option. And many others have adopted hybrid schedules, with students in class a couple of days a week alternating with a couple of virtual learning days. This is to allow for better social distancing while there are bodies in the buildings.

I think that last option -- the hybrid -- is what our district is going to do (based on surrounding districts), but they are set to officially announce the proposed schedule today. Just being really honest with you, I am still on the fence about what we will do in the fall. I have written pro/con lists, put our two big girls' schedules side-by-side to see what they would look like in every proposed scenario, imagined what next year might look like if we decide one way or the other, talked to other parents, researched the recommendations of trusted medical sources, and agonized. 

I realized the privileged position I am in for even having this choice to make. I am so very grateful to have a job that I can do from home. I am so fortunate to be able to cut back in that role if I need to, to focus on things at home. We are healthy (knock on all of the wood), and we do not live with any immunocompromised or elderly family members. Those are all just starting points for making this decision, and I know all of our starting points are different. 

So here's where I am personally. Why not keep the girls entirely home for remote learning? I could and I very well might, but my reasons for considering sending are that I see a lot of value in personally connecting with a teacher. Since the majority of school will likely be virtual, I think connecting in person a couple of times a week might help my child (six) be more invested in those virtual learning days and ultimately get the most out of this unconventional school year. If I can, I would like to allow her that chance. The AAP and CDC are both in support of in-school learning for a variety of reasons. 

But, yes, I am also nervous about illness (if you know me, that's me during a normal year) and just generally whether I'm "doing the right thing." That's me all the time, too. I want to make the right choice for my family, but I also don't want to disregard others and their needs. I don't want to regret sending, and I don't want to regret not sending. I know any of you in this situation understand these ramblings and have had similar thoughts. If you have, I would love to hear them, to bounce ideas off of each other whether about in-school or homeschool, and to just generally lend a word of support to one another. I have seen so many judgmental, downright ugly posts tearing down parents' decisions no matter what they are, and no matter what I choose, I will not stand for that. That isn't helping anyone.

One thing I have decided is that no matter what path we choose this year, I want to help my kids choose happiness and hope. We are going to do some back-to-school shopping together (online!) as we normally would, they can help to pick out some new gear like backpacks, lunch boxes (even if we stay home!), and school supplies. We are going to set up a comfortable space here at home for virtual learning days. We are going to talk about school and what they might learn, and make sure there are ways for them to safely socialize. We are going to choose joy this school year.

I'll keep you posted on what we decide. Just know that when you're feeling frustrated, unsure, doubtful... you are not alone. And I hope you choose joy despite it all.


  1. Yes to choosing happiness and hope for our kids. I am at a loss as well. Our district said elementary students would go back full time and middle/HS would go back on a rotating schedule. And now the teachers have said they don't feel comfortable and want to have distance learning for 9 weeks. The only problem was last semester was a complete failure here. Kids didn't do the work since it was a pass/fail and barely had to do anything to pass. Basically what your grade was when school went into virtual learning is what you ended the year with. So they would need to drastically change the virtual learning process here. Plus many students didn't have the means to do virtual learning. The school board is meeting tomorrow to decide once and for all. We do have a back up for my kids should they do distance learning. But I just hate that we are all in this position. Especially with parents harping on others for the choices that one makes.

    1. I completely understand all of this! It makes it very difficult when the impression of virtual school left on so many was... not good. I understand the districts had very little time to implement things, but I do hope now that they have had a few months they can at least fine tune and make improvements to the program so kids have the best chance at thriving (while all hopefully remain healthy). I'm glad you have a back-up plan -- it's so tough with two full time working parents at home. I feel for every family -- there is just no good answer to all of this. I'm glad we can at least have control over choosing happiness and hope for our families. <3 xo

  2. I am a school teacher (I know all places are doing it differently) but if you would like a chat then you are more than welcome. Just know what ever you decide you're doing what is best for your family x

    1. That is so, so kind of you to offer! Thank you Courtney -- your words are comforting. No doubt you're a great teacher. :)

  3. You (as ever) so succintly summed up the dilemma a lot of American parents must be having. But it is great that you have options to choose - and I beleive in some parts of the US parents are given devices such as chrome books for the children to use as well? Either way, whatever you decide it will be fine - you can still hopefully allow them to mix with other children in some format can you, say friends or at a club, even if they aren't at school? Could you also decide to enrol them if you felt online learning didn't work for them? Equally, could you withdraw them back if you were worried about the virus? Here as far as we know you have to send them back in Sept otherwise you get fined.

    1. I know so many of us are in the same boat here! It is good to have the option -- and at the same time, agonizing to have to weigh it all and choose. Neither options feels like a good choice. It's tough! We have a one-time opportunity to switch from in-person to virtual and vice versa. We can switch at the beginning of any of the 3 remaining marking periods. I was leaning hybrid and then virtual and now... I just don't know! That's interesting about your school situation. Are they taking measures to mitigate risks like social distancing/masks and all of that?


CopyRight © | Theme Designed By Hello Manhattan