Parents, teachers and school officials across the United States face an impossible decision as the new school year grows nearer.
Despite what you may read on social media, there is no absolute correct answer. There is no right and wrong way to handle this. As our school officials have said many times, there is no playbook for this pandemic that we have faced for most of 2020.
The decision of whether to send our kids back to school has so many factors that anyone could spend hours arguing within themselves the pros and cons, the ins and outs and the many interested parties when it comes to this crucial move.
There are parents who want their kids back in school because of the social and mental health factors associated with being back in their classrooms. There are others who want their kids back in school so they can go back to work, which cannot be discounted, as many folks have seen their opportunities to make a living limited by COVID-19 and its residual impacts.
There are parents who think it is not safe for their kids to return to school, and no one can tell a parent that they are wrong when it comes to the safety of their own child. That is their primary responsibility as a parent, and that decision is theirs alone.
The Habersham County School system has offered a virtual option for students, although that means that student will essentially be unenrolled in his or her current districted school. Habersham County is likely to contract out with an online education service for the virtual school, as it was indicated in their initial press release on the reopening of schools that those would not guaranteed to be local teachers.
The virtual option also only offers four core subjects and prohibits the student from participating in extra-curricular activities with their classmates.
But for those dissatisfied with that option, one has to ask what else the school district would be expected to do.
The teachers already have their hands full returning to the classroom and handling the education of students while following safety guidelines. Teachers also cannot opt out of the process, which also has caused some angst in the community, but again, if they allowed that, the educational process would not be able to go forward.
This puts teachers in a role similar to front-line healthcare workers in that they are assuming a great deal of risk to serve others in the community, a factor that should be remembered as they return to school buildings to teach our kids.
As for virtual students being barred from other school activities and sports, it is illogical to assume that playing a sport or being involved in a club is somehow safer than attending actual school.
So this scenario is not perfect, and we say again that there is no right or wrong choice. The school system also is in a no-win scenario caused by this virus that no one expected, planned for or ever wanted to deal with. But school officials have offered the best programs they can under the circumstances. Leaders take the best information they have, make a decision and move forward.
It is now up to each parent to look at the choices on the table and make the best one for your child, and no one should judge anyone else’s decision or rationale in this matter.