Some Texans have already returned to school to begin a new year. Many others will return later this month. But this school will be unlike any other. COVID-19 cases are climbing fast in Texas, and the delta variant is forcing parents and schools to rethink plans for in-person school, and keeping kids and school staff safe.
We asked listeners to tell us what was on their minds as the academic year begins.
“I am the mom of four children. Two out of my four are vaccinated and we have no choice but to send our children to school because they are not offering any other options. I’m feeling very nervous about this year, especially for the two that aren’t vaccinated. I worry about my children being in the classroom with an unvaccinated teacher. I worry about my children being in the school with children carrying the disease and being asymptomatic. This is a scary situation for a parent to be in – to make these decisions. I feel that my children lost so much last year in terms of socialization. I am very upset that there is no mask mandate for the schools. So I hesitate in sending my children back. – MaryClare Gaidsick, Harrow, Texas
“I’m the mother of two elementary aged children in Fort Bend County. They attend public schools and have attended public schools since kindergarten. I’m so excited that face-to-face is an option this year for them, but I’m so very much scared about what will happen to them when they go to school. They are ineligible for vaccines, but even before school has started, their school has reported for COVID-positive cases in the last two days. I’m now left with a very difficult decision to figure out how best to educate them and to save them, save their lives and keep them healthy. I really, really wish that we could eliminate this conflict for parents and mandate mass in our public schools.” – Samina Quddos, Fort Bend County, Texas
“I have two daughters and the youngest is not yet eligible for the vaccine. I have not yet made a decision about school for her. I think about it constantly. Virtual schooling really, really didn’t work for us last year. There was no engagement, no learning, and it really was a constant struggle. She thrived when we sent her back to school in the spring. She loved school and did so well. Yet without a mask mandate, school no longer seems like a safe place. Schools are doing less this year with a more transmissible variant than last year. How do I, as a parent, reconcile sending my child to school in this environment? We need a mask mandate. We need funding for virtual schooling. We need more testing. Please be safe out there. – Christine DeVries, Austin
If you have a story or thoughts that you’d like to share about heading back to school this year, go to texasstandard.org/backtoschool. Record your message there, and we may play it on the air.