February 2021, from Jessica
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Well, hello, another month has passed and we’re now in 2021. An update with my daughter’s schooling situation is that we had the option to have her go in-person five days a week, but we were not comfortable with that option, so we chose full distance learning for the rest of the second trimester. Here’s what factored into our decision: She’s in kindergarten and is learning how to read and seeing the teachers’ mouths during instruction is so important for development. She started the school year in the hybrid model, with just two days in-person. It seemed like a big jump from that to full distance learning, to full-time in-person. She enjoys spending time with me two days a week at home and enjoys being at the small in-home daycare the other days. We wanted to at least keep some consistency in her schedule. So much is changing and uncertain right now. Additionally, her emotional and mental health is important and while we don’t let our young children make such big decisions, we do ask what they think about things and why. She was relieved when we told her we decided to continue with the distance learning. It was a tough decision and each family has to do what works for them.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention some of my fears that also factored into this decision. The younger grades went back to in-person school the week of President Biden’s inauguration, when more acts of insurrection and violence were anticipated. It made me feel so unsafe sending my child to school not knowing if all chaos was going to break loose in the community. I at least felt more comfortable with my child being with me at home and at daycare where she feels safe. The world we are living in feels so unsafe, we cleave to what feels safe during this time. Another fear was that the teachers have to combine their classes together in order to meet the needs of both the in-person students and distance learning students since the teachers no longer have the same amount of time to prep for distance learning. This increases the amount of students in each class, while also adding more awkwardness to an already awkward social situation with being halfway through the school year and having to get acquainted with half of their classmates. Also, I anticipated that the kids would eventually have to go back to distance learning anyway due to the COVID cases, so why not avoid the continued pendulum swing of further changes to routine by making the choice for ourselves. Even just typing this out to explain is complex and exhausting.
It’s not easy being a parent during this pandemic. It’s also not easy being a child. My kids miss seeing their extended family and playing with their friends. They dislike having to wear masks everywhere they go. They miss doing all the activities we used to do as a family. I find myself continuously going through the grieving process for our kids who are navigating these challenges along with us. It’s been really sad some days thinking about the realities that we are living in. Then, I try to shift my focus to something more positive and I think about the things that I can control, and maybe some of the little joys that I can help create for myself and my family. For example, we love to do art projects that involve glitter. The more glitter the better; it’s just so pretty and sparkly. After our art projects, we get to see glitter throughout the house for weeks, and of course, it can be an annoyance to clean up, but it also provides a little sparkle and shine – maybe at the moment we needed a bit extra.
— Jessica Boner
EVOLVE Family Services, Clinical and Education Programs Director