PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It has become almost daily now. A school district lays out its plan to return to school under the cloud of the pandemic. The common themes have been students returning to the classrooms for instruction, working remotely online, or a combination.
A growing number of districts are leaving it up to the parents to decide what combination to choose for their child. That’s where the conflict between convenience and a parent’s needs slam head long into the desires of the child and their safety.
James Shamlin, a licensed social worker and family counselor at Cranberry Psychological Center, says the issue boils down to a parent’s basic instinct to protect a child, and the need to get everyone’s life back to some form of normalcy.
“For parents today to offer their children to go to school, it’s important that they see beyond that guilt of, ‘I might be putting my child in harms way,’ and look for the positives of going back to school.”
Positives he says that include what the American Academy of Pediatrics describes as the benefits developmentally, socially and mentally of having a child mixing with peers in the educational environment. And from a medical standpoint, the development of immunities that come from mixing with other children.
Clearly, the fear for every parent is sending a child back into the classroom only to have them come home sick, and in this case with COVID-19.
“So one of the important things is for parents to have reassurance is to really tap into the administrators and the teachers as to what they are doing to teach children to maintain safety while at school,” Shamlin says.
Shamlin says its okay for parents to consider their own needs and the needs of the family.
“I know parents who tend to feel guilt and I commend them because they are thinking in very conscious ways of wanting the best for their children and keep them safe all the time,” he said. “The kids are better served often times by being at school while the parents can focus on the work at hand and feel like they can give the best to their kids at the end of the work day better than feeling the stress of wearing multiple hats all at the same time.”
Shamlin emphasizes its important for parents and children to keep open a conversation about the decision and for everyone’s desires to be considered even though its ultimately up to mom and dad.