How 10 Parents Are Planning for the Upcoming School Year

Normally, around June, we’re still daydreaming about our summer plans and holidays—we’re putting off thinking about the school year until July or August. But these days, most parents are anxiously awaiting news about their children’s school and care. We want our kids to resume their education and socialize with peers, but we also want our kids—and their caretakers and teachers—to be safe. The global pandemic has upended daily lives, making it nearly impossible for parents to maintain normalcy for their kids. As communities begin opening up, parents have undertaken various action plans for their kids, from moving into a new area to staying online for the upcoming school year.

 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one family might not work for another family. What works for one kid in the family might not work for the other kid in the family. None of us have all the solutions, but we’re trying to find the answers. As September looms closer and closer (and as our patience runs thinner and thinner), we’ve asked some parents around the United States about their current plans for childcare and education:


The kids will be heading to school or daycare, in person

 

“If daycare in New York City remains open through the summer and fall, that’s where Henry will be!” —Caren

 

“My son’s name is Xander and he is three. We just moved out of Manhattan three weeks ago to a house on Long Island. The pandemic definitely pushed us along but we also have 15-month-old twins, so we knew we needed more space for our three babies. Xander will be attending a preschool program in Merrick in September. I do not have any reservations about sending him and I personally want him to go. He needs to be socialized at his age. Staying home with me and two babies has caused a slight regression in him and I feel school will help him come out of it.” —Brooke

 

 

The kids will be staying home with us

 

“I had my baby at the end of December, so by the time I was ready to come back from mat leave in May, we were living in a WFH world shaped by COVID. I was too nervous about exposure to hire a nanny then, so we have been making it work, splitting childcare and work windows between myself and my husband, on a complicated schedule that falls apart any time our little guy doesn’t nap on schedule (we’re weaning off swaddling right now, so that’s often). I definitely don’t think this can continue through the fall, so we are planning to have my husband take his remaining month of paternity leave in September, and then will need to get comfortable with bringing a nanny into the mix. I’m hoping with rapid response testing, we can get to a place where we can do it in a way that’s safe for everyone, but truth be told, I’m still pretty nervous.” —Neha

 

“We decided to pull our daughter from preschool. It sucks because we lost our money (deposit and first round of payment, which was $10k) and spot in a competitive program, but felt it was safest for her mental health and my physical health. I’m high risk due to an autoimmune and blood condition, so my doctors felt it was the best bet since they think fall and winter will bring on a second round. Also, we felt if school switched to Zoom again, it wasn’t worth our money since total tuition is close to $25K. We decided we’d homeschool with the help of Book Nook Tribeca and a few special teachers for art, music, etc.. We have a small group of friends who vowed to stay safe together and we’ll be with them. The kids will socialize, but safely.”  —Michelle

 

“I’m a first-time mom, and my maternity leave is coming to end in a few weeks. My son Mateo just turned 5 months old, and my husband and I had been planning on putting him in daycare when I headed back to work. With the pandemic, our chosen daycare is closed, and my husband and I will both be working from home, so we are planning on splitting care of Mateo while we both work. Depending on how tough it is, we may call in our parents as reinforcements to help. It’s tough, because we know there is definite risk in mixing households, though that risk would likely be less than the risk of putting Mateo in daycare whenever they open back up. We are trying to manage the risk where we can, because it might be impossible to avoid. Life just feels dominated by risk management right now.” —Melissa 

 

“As a working mother in a senior role, I don’t have the capacity to sit down with my 3.5 year old 3 hours a day to do school work. I am also thinking of potentially hiring a tutor to come in a few hours a week to help. Overall, I am not a trained preK teacher nor do I have the bandwidth to manage this. This whole experience has been challenging for our family – I sometimes feel like I live in a daycare – but regardless of the amount of challenges and work, I am beyond grateful for this time we’ve had together as a family.” — Angela

 

We really don’t know

 

“We plan to remain in New York City, and hope for our son to attend school at least part-time. It is all very uncertain now. Much like the rest of this crisis, we are taking everything one day at a time.” —Cailin

 

“With stockpiles of rosé to get me through September, and then I plan to switch to a nice Pinot Noir as the weather turns chillier into the fall. Probably some Advil here and there, if I’m being honest.” —Sandra

 

“To be honest, I’m not really looking that far out right now. I find that I feel much better if I just focus on the next few weeks. The uncertainty of thinking ahead any further stresses me out. No one really knows, and while I’m grateful that the schools are trying to include parents’ feedback in their scenario planning, I just can’t. This is basically one big uncontrolled session of immersion therapy in giving up control and it’s not always pretty.

 

I am approaching this upcoming academic year with cautious hope alongside my nearly constant mental mantra of ‘Be flexible, be flexible, be flexible.’ I truly hope that we see massive strides in testing and tracing in the next 60-to-90 days so the kids can go back to school in person in September. Unfortunately, as the weeks go by, the less and less likely that seems. I can still hope though. When I hear about the various options being considered, like kids in masks eating lunch in their classroom with plexiglass desk dividers, I have to fight off tears. That said, I’ve seen firsthand this spring how resilient kids are and I think they’ll adapt to whatever the fall brings, even if that is more remote learning.” —Emily 

 

“It’s been a challenging time doing remote learning for school, having my husband work virtually and being cooped up in our NYC apartment. With the uncertainty of school reopening in the fall and the chance of a second wave of the pandemic, my family of 4 decided to leave the city for good, for the suburbs. We appreciate the extra space and the ability to easily go outside without an elevator ride. My daughter even learned how to ride a bike. Although we thought we’d be in the city for years, the pandemic made us reassess our priorities.” –Grace 

 


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