Raising children is difficult under normal circumstances, but this year changes things exponentially. Any parent would be wary about sending a child back to school with the virus rampant. In a recent survey over one-third of parents with children between ages 3 and 17 said they were "not at all" comfortable sending their children back to school this fall. Some have options but not all; working from home is simply not an alternative for many parents. Others face reduced family income if one parent stays home or cuts their hours. Less time on the job could mean a side-tracked career along with retirement savings curtailed. I’m glad The Rona didn’t hit 30 years ago. Back in the day, working from home was not an option, and "Sesame Street" was distance learning.
Parents face the same choices Kris Kristofferson had when he fumbled through his closet for his cleanest dirty shirt, or worse. Opening schools on schedule seems to be off the table, but delaying a few weeks only kicks the can down the road and likely won’t change much. Some guidelines don’t seem to be practical. For instance, The American Academy of Pediatrics issued guidelines last month recommending physical distancing of three feet instead of the standard six, assuming face coverings are worn. Sounds like a recipe for miserable kids and teachers.
One option may be to reduce class sizes with half on a Monday/Tuesday schedule and the rest attending on Thursday and Friday and classes could be sanitized on Wednesday and over the weekend. Online learning, coupled with regular classrooms, would give a semblance of a normal school year.
Unfortunately, America has defunded public education for decades; shifting gears will be difficult.
Keeping children safe in classrooms will incur additional costs from higher cleaning costs and improved filtration systems. Many children get their best meals at school, but cafeteria dining is no longer safe.
Individual meals delivered to campuses cost more. Online classes could be an option but last spring we learned about America’s digital divide. Low-income households rely on school districts for laptops or access to wireless hotspots. Providing quality education is essential but it is will be more expensive until the pandemic ends.
The Houston Independent School District plans to offer online classes the first six weeks, but a class with 30 or 40 students on Zoom is not an effective way to teach. Online education works only with adequate support for families and students along with adequate training for teachers. Raise your hand if you have had a problem with a virtual presentation. With the virus raging, online education may be the only safe option.
2020, you got us again. Usually, locals could look forward to thinner crowds when school started.
Recognizing your friends at Publix was a bonus but with masks, we miss seeing them.
You can’t always get what you want, but Buz Livingston, CFP, can help you figure out what you need. For specific advice, visit livingstonfinancial.net or drop by, masked, 2050 West County Highway 30A, M1 Suite 230.