As parents, we can’t wait for our kids to go back to school. Due to the lockdown, many parents might feel like they’ve had much more responsibilities now, having to take care of children at home 24/7. For a parent who may also be working from home, can become frustrated for having to ensure the kids have proper internet connection to their online class, and that they are paying attention in school. The parents need a break. In the lockdown, kids miss their friends and also want to go back to school to socialize and play. We all want to return to a normal way of life, which was before COVID.
But are we really ready to send our kids back to school? There are many concerns, questions and fears. If the student is over 12 years old, they can get vaccinated. But what about the younger kids? They are at a vulnerable age, where they often get sick, and get exposed to germs by putting things in their mouth. How safe is the school campus? It is not clear what precautions the school will be taking. Will hand sanitizing stations be installed inside and outside each classroom, and in the playground? Will the kids go through some training about social distancing, wearing masks, and how to prevent the spread of COVID? Is there medical staff available at each school to take care of kids? Will each student’s temperature be checked before entering the school? On the other hand, a student can be a COVID carrier, yet not exhibit symptoms, and so they could be unknowingly infecting other kids. How safe do the school staff feel? What is the school policy on COVID testing of students? If a classmate later gets diagnosed with COVID, will any of the classmates be required to stay home for 2 weeks?
How can school staff monitor kids to make sure they wear face masks at all times? When playing outside the classroom during the breaks, kids can be expected to take their masks off. It can be difficult to breathe in a mask. When kids are running around playing, the mask can further hinder their breathing. Are the playgrounds properly sanitized every day? How safe is the classroom? Schools have installed plexiglass dividers in some classrooms, which are only about 2 feet above the student’s desk. If COVID is an airborne virus, then how effective is the short plexiglass barrier? Will the class size be reduced? Often, each desk is to be placed about 3 feet apart. Are schools really ready to open up for in-person attendance, or are our kids going to be guinea pigs in this experiment? That’s a concern for many parents. Yet, some parents already have their kids in day care. Some students have been attending class in person. There is a lot still up in the air. These are confusing times. Policies keep changing also due to the new variants of COVID. Yet, one of the solutions often available to parents is to keep their kids in online school. LAUSD and other districts are offering the option of online classes, for those students who don’t wish to come back to school in person.
Raysa Barrientos, Fazeel Chauhan, Shamera Johnson, Claritza Rodriguez, and Mariana Vargas The authors work in various capacities in social services as advocates for youth and marginalized communities, and are candidates for Masters of Social Work at California State University, Long Beach