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Wondering, waiting, wishing for good answers

My heart is heavy for young families with school-aged children right now.

It has to be hard, especially for those homes with two working parents, to know what to do regarding the start of school in a few weeks.

Do we send our children? Do we keep them home and homeschool them? Do we keep them home and enroll them in online classes?

At times, those questions must seem overwhelming.

And our parents and their children are no different than school teachers, administrators and legislators — all of whom also are still wrestling with how best to proceed in this world still facing COVID-19 concerns.

I believe all of us had hoped that, by this point, the coronavirus crisis would have been mitigated, and there would have been more clarity for everyone on how best to proceed. Certainly, that was wishful thinking.

Unfortunately, however, the crisis is just as real, just as threatening, as when school closed back in March, and, thus, here we are — wondering, waiting and wishing for good answers.

For some parents, the answer to school options really comes down to an economic decision.

Who in a two-income home, for instance, will stay at home with the students, if that is what ultimately happens this school year? Or, if a school week is split up between in-school class and online class, who is going to watch the students on the “off” school days?

As a grandfather, I pray for my granddaughters every night, and their parents, who are like just like you — trying to know what is the best thing to do. My one daughter-in-law is a teacher, which raises my concern level up a notch even further.

Just as confusing as school is what to do for daycare, which my two youngest granddaughters need right now. How do you balance a need for social interaction with others of a similar age against social distancing at young ages?

While trying times for all of us, it is even more so for those families and children.

And what about parents of college students? Again, some colleges are having students return, but many are not.

My one son is a professor at Wayne State University, where the vast majority of the classes will be taught online all year. He has been conducting research and working remotely since March, and only this week visited his office for the first time since the spring.

In Bridge Magazine — one of the state’s premier publications, in my estimation — a poll recently was shared regarding state residents’ thoughts on whether it was safe for students to return to school. Their findings showed that 51% did not believe it safe enough, 36% were satisfied it was safe enough,and 13% were unsure.

The Washington Post, in a story on Thursday, said in a poll they conducted nationally more than 80% favored holding school at least partially online this year, if not all classes being online.

Even still, the Post reported parents also had concerns about the quality of learning for their students from online offerings.

Their findings revealed 44% favored a mix of online and in-person classes this year, 39%wanted all online teaching, and 16% wanted in-school classes.

Meaghan Gauthier, Alpena Public School’s assistant superintendent for instruction, told parents this week officials are trying to create as safe an environment as they can for students.

“A way to look at it is, we can never guarantee that we are going to mitigate 100% of risk … but what we can do is put in a strategy that is powerful, that will help us mitigate our risk,” she said.

Which is really all that can be asked for at this point.

I have much empathy for parents right now.

My guess is you do, too.

They need our support, and, perhaps, more importantly, our prayers.

Bill Speer can be reached at 989-354-3111, ext. 311, or bspeer@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @billspeer13.

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