Parents’ decisions regarding school a weighty matter

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

On Monday, July 20, Pelham parents confirmed with school officials whether their children’s fall 2020 semester’s schooling would be virtual, blended or traditional. According to Pelham City Schools’ reopening plan, commitments are for the semester.

For parents of small children who must be in a workplace to earn income, choices are limited. Many parents have struggled. Former students, who are now parents, have reached out.

“Can you give me the teachers’ perspective on opening schools?” asked a PHS alum, now raising three small children. She is struggling to decide if her eldest should return to school this fall. Caring for her two younger children, while assisting her school-aged son with remote learning, was a tough task last spring.

“I was dead set on sending my son back to school; I cannot provide the structure, peace and quiet he needs to learn from home, but—I’m having a change of heart. I cannot, in good conscience, put others at risk,” this mom admits.

What teacher viewpoint can I share? Offering a few ideas for collaboration should we all wind up at home, I shared the only teacher perspective I can offer parents. “Trust yourselves as parents to research and make the best choice for your children.”

Meeting PHS junior and senior parents, Jessica Ingram, Scott and Beth Pruitt, I asked their thoughts about the coming school year.

“They’re practicing football. Both of our families have football players,” Scott Pruitt said.

My heart aches for these parents too. Certainly, the final instruction and rituals of high school are incredibly significant—and no matter what choices follow—life, as we knew it before mid-March 2020, is not on our current menu.

Watching parents’ grapple with this difficult decision has been weighty. Investigating different online learning platforms while posting collaborative, shared documents of questions and school officials’ answers to reduce duplicated efforts reveals parent involvement that schools and teachers crave. Parents have created an informed, problem-solving, online, education community.

May our new normal, when we most past COVID-19’s most deadly days, include renewed parent-teacher partnership and ongoing, interactive community.