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?