Mesa moms weigh sending kids back to school for next academic year
PHOENIX — As state leaders move to reopen K-12 public schools in Arizona, which have been closed since March to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, parents are considering whether or not they’ll send their kids back or keep them home when the new school year begins.
Amy Daria already knows the answer for her son who’s entering kindergarten.
“I plan on sending my child to school,” she said. “I am now more concerned about his mental and emotional well-being more than I am about the virus itself.”
“He needs to be around others his age and needs the structure and education provided by school that we are not able to give him at home while we are working,” she added.
Daria said she’s also concerned his immune system will weaken and make it difficult for him to ward off other diseases.
“For us, the benefit of him going back to school far outweighs the risk,” she said.
But Jenessa Moore said she’s not willing to risk it. She’s choosing to homeschool her 6-year-old daughter during the upcoming school year.
“I just don’t really think that they are going to be able to keep the kids appropriately apart as well as keeping the school clean and staff safe,” she said.
Moore, who has a weakened immune system, said she feels it’s easier and safer to keep her daughter home for the next school year “and see where things are in 2021.”
She said her daughter’s teacher also made distance learning “a breeze” and she’s planning to follow her lead to set up a curriculum.
Meanwhile, Esther Tune said her three kids had a different experience with distance learning.
“I don’t feel like they actually learned anything,” she said, adding that she understands her kids’ schools did the best they could to roll out distance learning in such a short period of time.
Tune said she’s torn about whether or not she’ll send her kids to school in the fall mainly because she’s concerned about her oldest son who has type 1 diabetes and who’s higher risk for the coronavirus.
“He has been our biggest concern,” she said. “We’ve been extremely cautious, taking every precaution possible and only doing grocery deliveries. The kids haven’t even been out of the house, except for bike rides and walks, since March 13.”
Lindsay Wyatt said she’s also still not sure if she’ll send her three kids to school next year, but for other reasons. She’s waiting to see what guidelines schools will follow when they reopen.
The Arizona Department of Education has a task force that’s developing guidance and identifying essential resources that will be needed to safely open schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The task force is supposed to release a plan by the end of May.
“If all of the good things about public school go away, such as socialization, playing together on the playground or extracurricular activities, then our family will plan to just educate at home because that’s one of the reasons that we send our kids to public school,” Wyatt said.