After a spring of remote learning and a summer of drafting plans, four local parents and educators said there are a few certainties as school gets underway.
The educators themselves are excited to resume in-person work and their children are excited to see their friends again, but no one knows what the academic year will bring.
While educating and parenting at home simultaneously this spring was difficult, at least all school districts were remote. Now, families where parents work in one school district while their children attend another are adapting on two fronts.
So far, so good
Idaho Springs’ Sara Reich, an assistant principal at Alameda High School, was thankful that her sons returned to in-person classes at Carlson Elementary School last week.
Like other Jeffco schools, Reich has started classes online this week, although she has to be in the building anyway. While it’s been a challenge, she said things are going well so far for her family.
“We got the lucky end of the deal because our kids did go back to school,” she said.
Similarly, Sandi Schuessler’s sons started in-person at Clear Creek Middle School/High School last week, while she hopes Denver will resume in-person class as scheduled in mid-October.
Schuessler lives in Idaho Springs and works as a bilingual school nurse for Denver Public Schools. Given her background, she’s glad to see how public health and schools have collaborated in the restart process.
Schuessler wondered whether all districts would be remote again by October but hoped to resume in-person work because it’s easier to connect with students and families.
While not ideal, both Reich and Schuessler said if their employers went remote while their kids continued in-person, it’d be more manageable than the reverse.
If all districts resumed remote learning, both said balancing work and parenting would be challenging. Reich’s sons are still learning how to use the computer and need help staying on-task, and Schuessler’s four-person household had to schedule rooms last spring so everyone could work simultaneously.
“Sometimes, it’s an adventure,” Schuessler said of remote learning, “and other times, it’s a burden.”
Flexibility, patience and grace
To avoid the split-district challenges, Belmar’s Jill Stansbury and her family made the decision to enroll her son, Harper, at King-Murphy Elementary School.
Stansbury, who teaches science at Clear Creek High School, said her family spent most of the summer trying to figure out how to coordinate Harper’s schedule with hers. When Jeffco announced it would start remotely, the choice was clear.
“Bringing him to King-Murphy isn’t a guarantee (that school will continue in-person), but at least we’re starting the same way,” she said.
This way, Stansbury and Harper drive to CCHS together, he rides the bus to King-Murphy and then rides it back in the afternoon. So far, Harper loves his third-grade classroom, she commented.
“It has been nice to spend more time with my son in the morning,” Stansbury continued. “… We’re both at school, so it’s worked out.”
Meanwhile, Evergreen’s Alyson Loitz and her family have to juggle three districts.
Loitz is a counselor at CCHS, her co-parent works for Douglas County schools, and her daughter attends Bergen Valley Elementary School.
Figuring out back-to-school plans has been overwhelming for the family, but Loitz is happy to be back at CCHS. She hopes her daughter will resume in-person school as well after Labor Day as she’s very social and doesn’t like remote learning.
As everyone adapts to the challenges the school year will bring, Loitz emphasized the need for flexibility, patience and grace with one another.
“The only thing constant is change,” she said. “I know that parents are anxious, I’m anxious. … We’re all going through something we’ve never gone through before.”