Overwhelmed By Back To School Options? This Quiz Can Help

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Across the country, school districts are trying to create plans for how to approach the 2020 school year in light of the ongoing pandemic. In some places, schools are offering families the choice of in-person classrooms, virtual learning, or a hybrid approach that includes some in-person learning and some virtual. Understandably, most parents are torn between the health risks of Covid-19, the strains of prolonged e-learning at home, and the financial concerns of balancing their own work with virtual school. Not sure how to make the decision? We’re here to help! 

First, ParentsTogether recognizes that there is no one-size-fits all answer for parents. Every family is unique and there are different factors that will influence each family’s decision. That said, we’ve pulled together a set of core questions that experts say each family should consider. When you’re finished with the short quiz below, we’ll show you your answers and help you think through what they mean for your decision. Though we can’t make the choice for you, we can help you consider the right questions!

Welcome to your 2020 Back To School Decision Quiz

The COVID-19 community spread rate in my area is low.

I have access to Covid-19 testing in my area, and results are made available quickly.

(Note that a 5-day turnaround for test results will mean a child missing a week of school any time they show symptoms and need to get tested, so ideally results in your area would be available in under 5 days.)

My child does not have an underlying medical condition that increases their risk of health challenges due to COVID-19.

No one in my household or immediate family is at increased risk if they contract the virus (e.g. because of compromised immune function or lung disease).

My family needs child care, and without in-person school I will not have child care for my child(ren).

I have been adequately assured by our school that the environment will be safe for in-person attendance (e.g. frequently disinfecting surfaces, staggering schedules, plans for social distance, safe transportation, etc).

Our school has plans and policies in place for how and when to send students and staff home if they show symptoms.

Our school has plans and policies in place outlining what would need to happen to cause a single classroom or the entire school to go virtual, and guidelines for returning to the building after such an event—and I am comfortable with those plans.

My child can wear a cloth face covering for an extended period of time, if required by the school.

I am not confident that our school can successfully deliver virtual instruction that engages my child.

I’m concerned about my child being able to stay socially connected to peers during continued virtual learning, or that they’ll suffer other mental health consequences from learning from home.

My child(ren) can only receive the behavioral and/or individualized academic supports they need (e.g. IEP accommodations, speech therapy, etc) in the school building.

My child(ren) will not have adequate access to the food and nutrition that they need, even if they don’t return to the school building.

My family doesn’t have access to a reliable Internet connection and a computer or tablet for each child.

My child(ren) aren’t able to participate in virtual learning without supervision, and won’t have access to an adult to supervise virtual and independent learning activities.

Andrea is a mindfulness and yoga teacher, as well as an independent education consultant in Washington D.C. with expertise in child development, social-emotional learning and personalized learning. Andrea formerly lead a $500 million program for the U.S. Department of Education but still talks about her first job as a high school dropout prevention counselor.