Real parents are sounding off on their choices regarding in-person schooling for their kids—and it's a very real example of how nuanced this decision is.
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An image of a child in school with a mask on.
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As if we weren't already faced with enough decisions as parents, right now we're facing yet another one—and there truly is no perfect solution. We're talking, of course, about the choice many parents are facing over whether or not to send their children back to school for in-person learning this coming fall.

In many ways, this decision feels harder than ever at the moment. For many parents, the availability of vaccines and declining case counts provided a sense of security where sending kids to school was concerned. But now, as we're dealing with an uptick in cases and the Delta variant, that choice doesn't seem quite so clear. As parents, we're weighing so many factors in our decision of whether to send our children back for in-person learning...and a Reddit thread reveals just how difficult it is to weight the pros and cons.

"I am so conflicted. School here started last week. There is no mask mandate. My state has one of the lowest vaccine recipients. Every night the news tells me about hospitals being at capacity. Every thing online is telling me the new variant is highly contagious and kids are catching it at an alarming rate," the original poster writes. "I believe in science. I know there is still a pandemic going on. I am worried for my child. But ...my child was miserable last year. She is very social. She went through so many adult emotions. Her personality changed. She hated it so much and still tells everyone how much she hated it. I was miserable too. If she doesn't go to school then I can't work. My life becomes her life/education. I feel so selfish for not wanting that."

The original poster's dilemma is real...and very relatable for so many parents, who not only saw their children struggle to adapt to pandemic living while also dealing with conditions that made working and parenting nearly impossible.

Other parents are weighing in with their decisions—and touching on how there's truly no one-size-fits-all solution. So much depends on where you live, what case counts look like in your area, how much your family was affected by at-home learning, and your family's health risk profile where catching the virus is concerned.

"I'm sending mine in person but we have high vaccination rate, mask mandates indoors and low case count. Like 2% of our ICU beds are COVID. Would I make that choice if I lived in say Orlando? No," one commenter shares.

Another parent replies, saying: "I live in Orlando. I kept my child home last year, had a homeschool pod, saw no one else and did nothing. I feel defeated and frustrated that one year later, it's like we're still at step one."

Yet another weighs in sharing that they also live near Orlando and will be sending their child to in-person schooling. "Her teacher is vaccinated, the school strongly encourages masking (despite not being able to make a full year mandate), and the school system does have a 30 day mandate in place for the start of the year," the poster writes. "So, I am comfortable sending her, and will get her vaccinated as soon as she is eligible, which will alleviate most of the rest of the worries."

If this thread is any indication, most parents are opting to send their children back to the classroom come the start of the school year...but many parents are doing so with a lot of reservations.  

"I have been at near panic attack levels of anxiety all weekend over this, our kids schools start this week," one poster writes. "I am still freaking the F out. But my kids have not been in a school in-person since March 2020, I am not a teacher and I work full time, I cannot homeschool them. I WANT to, but I know realistically it will be incredibly stressful for all of us and my kids will fall behind."

This parent is not alone. "The stress of all this is like a mountain on my shoulders. We are sending them back in person. There's no mask mandate here [but] my kids (6 and 8) will be wearing masks," another commenter writes. "A big reason we sent my 8 yo back to school was because she was also showing personality changes and not healthy behavior. She went right back to normal once in school. My son is also showing signs that he needs to be in school, interacting with other kids, and learning. I hate all of this. I hate that we had (still have) to choose between our kids social and mental health and their physical health."

The commenter is right. Parents have the incredibly difficult task of weighing the dangers of sending children to school against the mental health and educational implications of keeping them home. As any parent making this decision knows, there is no clear answer. We have so many factors to consider, and ultimately, all we can do is make the choice that works best for our individual situations.

For resources on back to school prep, read more at The Parents Guide to Back to School 2021.