In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNESCO estimates that 89% of the world’s student population is out of school. There are already 185 countries that have taken the measure of closing schools to prevent the spread of the virus, leaving 1.54 billion children and young people without face-to-face classes in their schools and universities. In the US, many school districts were quick to react by creating plans to transition to online and home learning, and while they have been helpful in getting around the situation, they recognize that they are not as effective as in-person classes.
As schools begin to reopen, parents are faced with a dilemma: Should I send my children to school? There is no right or wrong answer; the decision should be based on the particular circumstances of each family. Then consider the following factors to make a determination.
Children’s Ages: Research indicates that children under the age of 10 can get and spread COVID-19, but are less likely than teens and adults to do so. Also, it is easier to keep young children isolated in a classroom, while adolescents have other ways of socializing and can better handle online learning. Therefore, age is an important factor.
Overall Family Health: If your family is in good health, you may consider sending your children back to school. However, if there are people in your home within risk groups (over 60, or with diseases such as diabetes or hypertension) you have to think twice, since there is always the possibility of bringing the virus home from school and seriously affect the most vulnerable.
Adapting to Online Learning: If you see that your children are taking advantage of home schooling, then there is no compelling need to send them back. But if you perceive that they are falling behind, or have special education needs, that is a reason for returning to face-to-face classes. In addition to the academic factor, it also considers the aspect of socialization in person, which is essential for the social development of children.
The school’s Biosafety Measures: Will they apply social distancing, the use of face masks, frequent hand washing, and temperature measurement? Will the number of students per classroom decrease? Is there a plan to isolate and treat suspected cases? If the school has all this planned, you could send your children with a little more peace of mind.
The Economic Capacity to Keep Them at Home: having your children at home can represent an additional expense, if you have already returned to your work and do not have someone to take care of them. That is another reason for sending them back to school.
I hope these insights have helped you clear your mind on a crucial family issue in the midst of this unprecedented health crisis. If you want more advice on parenting, find me on my social networks @lauraposadalifecoach.