A conundrum (a word I've always loved and would like to play in Scrabble) is defined as a "confusing or difficult problem or question." That is what parents of school-age children are facing right now and my two daughters are no exception. There was confusing information at first, but then the school district said that all students would attend school remotely for the first four weeks. After that, parents were given a choice for the next 9-week session: in-person classes or continued remote learning. After a lot of discussion with their spouses, Hannah and Alison chose remote learning for Booker (12), Lena (10) and Noah (6) out of an abundance of caution since the virus is raging in Texas.
On the surface, that sounds like a good plan, but it comes with complications. Hannah, for example, is working from home and her husband works from the office in an essential industry. She has a home office and is on conference calls all day long. They have hired a nanny to be with the two children and guide them through their lessons. Alison's husband Matt, who is taking courses on-line himself at the moment, will take responsibility for getting Booker through the school day while Alison works at Whole Foods. Andy and I will help out wherever we can - like letting the kids blow off steam in our pool. I worry about families who cannot afford extra help or may not have family to fill in.
This is a tough adjustment for both parents and kids. Little Noah has not seen any of his school friends since March and he misses them terribly. In kindergarten, he was thriving on the busy classroom atmosphere and loved his teacher. Switching to on-line learning has been challenging for him. Lena and Booker have a better understanding of the situation and are doing OK, but miss the stimulation of being in the classroom and interacting with friends at lunch and in other activities. At this time, after-school sports programs are not running, either.
Even if these kids can return to in-person classes sometime this year, school will be a very different place. Educators and administrators are scrambling to do their best for these children and I do not envy them. As a former elementary school teacher, I can't imagine how they are coping--not only with students, but with their own families. Who will supervise remote learning for their kids? What risks will they face coming back into the classroom, even with the most careful precautions?
Each day I wake up and remember what a mess this is. Like everyone, I long to get back to some kind of normal without risking my health. All the ads on TV right now say we can do this together. I hope so.
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.