Whether or not to send children back to school is a difficult choice right now. We asked a few parents which way they’re leaning

Still so much uncertainty

Jasmine Haughey, 15, is looking forward to going back to Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts and she hopes that her Grade 10 year will go well. When asked about wearing a mask all day, Jasmine said, “ It will be hard for the first week, but we have to wear them. We’ll get accustomed to it like everything else.” Both mother, Tanya, and daughter are fairly comfortable with Jasmine’s return to school.

On the flip side, brother Cameron’s situation is quite different. Cameron, 11, would like to go back to St. Brendan (Grade 6) to see his friends, but Tanya and her husband Greg are still unsure. “We are leaning towards sending Cameron back, but we change our minds every day!”

Tanya said. “Cameron’s class will have 28 students and I’m highly concerned. I’ve already told their grandparents to visit with the kids now because once school starts I don’t think they’ll be seeing them again for awhile.” Tanya knows of a few parents who will be keeping their elementary children home, but the majority will be sending them back. “There is still so much uncertainty and so much that is unknown right now,” she said.

When we got on the topic of school supplies Jasmine chimed in,” I will have my usual school supplies but also an extra face mask, tons of hand sanitizer and wipes.”

Going back to school and daycare

Nicole is looking forward to her big boy Ethan, 4, going to school in September. “Ethan is a social kid and his personality is to be with other kids,” Nicole said. “He has a good track record with good health.” She is a little more concerned about little Belize, 2, going back to daycare in September since Belize has a greater tendency to pick up any bug going around. Both children will love being back with other kids and having a regular routine. Mom and Dad will benefit from this, too, after so much time around home keeping the children occupied.

Nicole feels that the greater health risk from the kids going to school and daycare is for her and her husband, more so than for the kids. She plans to continue with weekly family visits, including with Grandma. “Of course, we will be even more careful about hand washing and sanitizing habits to keep Grandma safe, especially.

Nicole’s sentiment was that the COVID-19 virus is out there but the incidence of it remains small in Ontario. Overall, sending the kids back to school and daycare is a calculated risk and there needs to be trust in public health guidance, the school board and daycare doing their part to keep kids safe

Hoping for a better plan soon

Like many parents with school-aged children, Dawn D’Sa and Trevor Crawford have had to figure out how to continue to manage their full-time businesses while staying healthy, supporting extended family and trying to keep their two boys engaged with online learning.

They said they would love for the kids to return to school but they still need to feel comfortable with a safe in-school plan, which is not available yet. They’re keeping an open mind and hope to receive a better plan soon. They said their decision to let Quintin go into Grade 7 at Joseph Howe and Darius to go back to Centennial Rd. in Grade 4 really depends on the final pandemic plan from the school board. If the schools are unable to apply WHO recommendations such as reduced class size and other protocols, they said they would be forced to figure it out again.

Trevor and Dawn believe that the teaching and admin staff will do their best, but it’s imperative that families prepare their kids to follow public health guidance. They don’t think we should underestimate the ability of kids to understand the steps to follow for safety. They also hope to see creative solutions such as increased outdoor instruction. For Dawn and Trevor, the most critical thing is the ability to quickly react to outbreaks that do happen