Best of Both Worlds podcast: Back to school, Covid edition (2.0)

We’re gearing up for another school year — the third one that will be affected by the pandemic. A cursory check of social media reveals that there are many strong feelings out there, but this annual back-to-school episode of Best of Both Worlds is aimed at practical questions: how can working parents make their lives doable and sustainable, given what is going on?

Much of the debate has focused on mask mandates, but for many people, the most pertinent issue (as in causing massive schedule disruption) will be quarantines after potential exposures. I wrote that sentence a few days ago, and then it became even more pertinent for BOBW as Sarah’s two older children are now quarantined after classmates tested positive.

(Yes, they were masked — different schools/districts have different policies here).

Many schools will not be offering as robust virtual options this year, which means that any quarantines (beyond the obvious health worries) will involve not only scrambling for coverage, but also figuring out how to keep kids on pace with learning.

So it’s worth thinking through a plan. If a kid in your household was suddenly out of school for a week or more, what would you do? What if it happened multiple times? What is your school district’s or school’s policy on quarantines and what will the learning options be?

We recorded this episode a few weeks ago, and circumstances change quickly. Sarah talks a bit about the pediatric Covid situation in Florida. She talks about her set-up and why the pandemic is yet another reason that two physicians need a full-time nanny, even with the kids in school much of the day. She is investing in tutoring and has thought through what homeschooling support would look like if it comes to that. Since we recorded this episode, my district in PA has announced that there will be universal masking, with the reasoning being that anyone who is masked and 3 feet apart (which can be maintained with full-time school, unlike 6 feet, which cannot) will NOT be considered a close contact who needs to isolate. At least theoretically, this should mean fewer quarantines. They will possibly drop the mask mandate for high school if vaccination rates go up, though so far they’re only around 40-50 percent for high school students, which is under what I though it would be. My oldest child got vaccinated as soon as it was approved for 12-15 year olds. We will vaccinate the 11-year-old as soon as he turns 12. We encourage listeners to get vaccinated — I know the reasonable chunk of our listeners who are pregnant or planning to expand their families in the next year may have been waiting on this one, but there has been some new guidance there recently that should hopefully reassure people.

We also talk about the importance of maintaining some sense of excitement and fun for the school year, even with Covid as the background. Kids have gone through a lot. New shoes and notebooks can’t exactly change that, but maybe they can help some. So maybe it’s worth making a show there. I bought two school supply packs for 1st and 4th grade from Staples yesterday, and also bought two bright and colorful backpacks that won’t last more than a year but nicely express these children’s personalities, so there we go.

If your kids have gone back to school, how’s it going so far?

11 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Back to school, Covid edition (2.0)

  1. I’m in Ontario, Canada and we go back after labour day. Just wanted to thank you and Sarah for being so vocal about how great vaccines are. I am really hoping once younger kids can get vaccinated hopefully things improve. As soon as vaccines are approved for younger kids, mine will be first in line (7 year old twins and a 3 and a half year old)

  2. Yesterday was the first day back for my 10th and 6th grader. Much, much happier in the car ride home than last year.

  3. Just a big thank you for being vocally Pro-Vaccine! As a physician, I so appreciate this. Everyone in my household over 12 is fully vaccinated and the EUA for kids under 12 can’t come soon enough in my opinion. Keep up the strong work ladies!

  4. I got the vaccine while pregnant and I’m thrilled that my 3-month-old will have some immunity between that and breastfeeding as my older one starts kindergarten! I guess also maternity leave will also solve any quarantines for the older child this semester. But we should probably talk through what we will do if the five-year-old actually gets covid. Not sure how possible it is to keep siblings in the same house separated.

  5. Thank you for being pro-vaccine and saying you will vaccinate your kids asap. We need more and more voices advocating for this! I can’t wait for it to be available to our kids! I got my 3rd dose last week as I was eligible since I’m immune compromised. I am glad I am still breastfeeding so I can pass some antibodies along to our son. He’s gotten antibodies 3 times now so hopefully that helps somewhat!

  6. Both kids (12, 14) started back at school on Monday, and we’ve received notification that an immunization bus is coming on two dates for those who want to get vaccinated and haven’t yet. Ours are already vaccinated, and taking/wearing masks has become part of the new norm. One school has already sent out paperwork for pool testing; the other is holding off… for now.

  7. Great episode today!
    My daughter is a December 2009 baby and I was planning to take her to get vaccinated the day after her 12th birthday. Turns out that where I live ,British Columbia Canada, any child born 2009 can get vaccinated regardless of when they actually turn 12. I got her vaccinated as soon as I heard, only sorry I didn’t know earlier so she could be fully vaccinated ahead of the school year.
    Might be worth checking if this is the same in the US?

  8. One other thing – the podcast conversation focused on well children who were quarantined. We all also need to think about a plan for if our children test positive. Even if they don’t become ill, normal at-home childcare may not be an option…

  9. Thank you for plugging the vaccine for teens and for pregnant women as well! I got both my young teens vaccinated this summer. We are in Norway, where they aren’t offering it to those age 12-16 yet, so we had to get it done while on vacation in the USA. Another friend drove (twice) to Germany to get her teen vaccinated there.

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