By Zully Rodriguez | Community Organizer, Partnership for Community Action
As we look back at the past months when our kids went back to in-person instruction, we can see that we learn to cope with the uncertain results and benefits of the return to school.
When the state announced that children could return to in-person instruction by April 5 2021, many parents struggled with the decision to send their children back or to continue online learning. While opening schools was a promising return to normalcy for some families, the process of reopening schools was uncharted territory for school administrators, parents and students. Educators across the state had to face the fact that bringing children back into the classroom created a higher risk of spreading the virus, however, both elected officials and educational institutions also recognized that the social development and socialization in the classroom was important for overall student success.
Every family that decided to send their children back to school had to confront the risks of increased contagion. The chances of getting infected are greater in the school setting than at home, but for some parents, the risk was worth it. It has been more than a year since quarantine began, many families have dealt with increased anxiety and other emotional challenges with their children as a result of the stress of confinement, lack of social contact, and uncertainty. We do not yet know the magnitude of the consequences this will have on our children.
Some parents decided to leave their children at home and continue online learning to protect their children and families from the risk of infection. For other parents, the concern of socio-emotional health outweighed their fear of the spread of the virus.
While schools are learning to cope with spells of infection, and teachers are learning to balance both an in-person classroom and an online classroom, reopening schools has allowed both students and teachers to share connections that they’d been lacking for the past year.
The spring period of classroom learning has proven to be a test-period for families, teachers, and school officials. And while some schools have seen some student infections, with the increase of vaccinated community members, families can feel safer with their kids back in the classroom. This period of in-person instruction provides students and families a sense of normalcy, socialization, and ease of learning, and allows schools to be better prepared for a full return in the fall.
Visit the Albuquerque Public Schools COVID-19 page for regular updates on reported cases in schools.
Whether you decided to send your child back to the classroom or not, just as we have over the past year, we are learning to cope with public health risks, while also balancing the priorities of our children’s well-being and capacity to learn. We can only hope that return in the fall will be smoother and safer.
The most important thing about all this is that whatever our decision is, we have responsibilities to our community. Taking care of ourselves to reduce the risk of contagion is important now more than ever, and getting the vaccine, although it is optional, is a responsibility we share as a community. So please do your part to come back to normality as soon as possible.