Back to School During COVID-19

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It’s official: my kids are going back to school during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s how I’m feeling, how that looks here, and what’s happening with our lives.

Spoilers: I have mixed feelings.

Back to School During COVID-19

If everything was up to me, we wouldn’t be going back. Unfortunately, I share my 5 kids with my ex husband and both of us get a say when it comes to where the kids go to school. I can’t pull them out to homeschool, and he can’t either.

Their dad cited a few reasons why he wants them back like socialization or not being ‘qualified’ to teach (which is totally not a reason). The truth, in my opinion, is that he (like me and my fiancée) works form home. Working without childcare is hard.

I was a bit surprised, especially since he has some preexisting conditions that puts him at additional risk, but we all have our own risk tolerance I guess.

I’ve always wanted to homeschool

This back and forth with my ex goes all the way back to kindergarten with my oldest, who’s now going into grade 8. I had wanted to homeschool her, but he was strongly against it. Actually, he said I wasn’t qualified to teach then too. Oh well.

She’s thrived in school, but that doesn’t mean that the desire to keep my kids close and teach them at home hasn’t changed. I was hoping to get an opportunity this year. But I guess not.

Masks are mandatory

They’ve made masks mandatory for grade 4 and up here, so that helps. Even though I know not all the kids are going to be ‘good’ with them, there will be less risk than with no masks.

My kindergarteners wouldn’t be able to handle them, but my daughter who’s going into 3rd grade has elected to wear hers despite not having to. She’s feeling the most COVID anxiety out of all the kids.

The kids are excited

This is one thing that helps me a lot when it comes to thinking about them going back. The oldest is so excited to see her friends on a daily basis. She does so well in school (straight As!) and hasn’t loved the homeschooling we did all spring.

The twins are counting down the days until they can ride the school bus to kindergarten. And even the middle two are looking forward to seeing their friends, even if academics really aren’t their favourite. (I’m lucky to have kids who do well in school, but I sure wish they enjoyed it more!)

I’m worried

There’s a lot to be worried about when it comes to sending your kids off to school. This isn’t really anything new for me; I’ve always hated to be far from my babies. This year, with COVID-19, there’s a lot of added stress when it comes to back to school.

I’ve been seeing the child case count tick up in the states with schools opening and I don’t want that here. On top of that, kids seem to get strange side effects of the Coronavirus sometimes and we haven’t really studied that much.

We are just going to do our best to stay healthy, I guess.

We live rurally

Another good thing about our situation is we don’t live in a populous area. The kids’ schools have somewhere between 300 and 400 students each, and our towns are small too. That means less risk than places where the kids are cramped in. The elementary school also recently had an addition built on so kids can spread out even easier.

Here in Manitoba, cases are still lower compared to other parts of the world. We have a bad spike right now but it’s mostly linked to clusters rather than strong community transmission.

We’re all ready to go

This week I finished off my back to school shopping, including masks. It wasn’t nearly as exciting as getting them ready for school usually is! Still, I’m happy that they get back into routines and to see their friends. I’m also glad that the teachers can help catch up anything they missed with virtual schooling in the spring.

My twins need speech therapy, and I’m glad that they’ll get that by going back to school.

Even if I’m worried, I can’t let that stop me from letting my kids live their lives too. I think the risk is relatively small, it’s just me who’s worried. I’m taking advantage of this transition to work on myself.

We’ll just take it one day at a time.