By Tyra Gordon
Navigating through parenthood can often be a dubious journey, as children do not come with a handbook. In parenting, we often rear our children based on our own life experiences coupled with trial and error. When children go through puberty, you may have a mental rolodex to which you can refer to coax them through their growing pangs. If your children venture through something you have never personally experienced, you do your best to guide them and may rely on your moral compass to get you through. However, how do you tackle the task of raising your children during a global pandemic, from which you are trying to survive yourself, in addition to keeping them safe? What are you to do when the decisions you make for your children could very well make the difference between life and death?
COVID-19 has thrust millions of people into a panic and created a mockery of our normalcies. Going to work or school has now posed a threat to our lives, families being forced to make conscious decisions about things that were once second nature. When COVID-19 hit in March of 2020, we were told that our children would either attend school virtually or that they would continue to attend school in person. Each option came with its own dilemma: the responsibility of children attending school virtually fell upon working parents and many were forced to figure out how to juggle work schedules while ensuring that their children were equipped with what they needed to be educated at home. Most parents could not afford to stay at home from work to help their children with their schoolwork. Even for parents who may have had a flexible work schedule that allowed them to be at home, children becoming acclimated to the virtual learning process proved to be problematic. For those students that were still attending school in person, then came the worry of the risk of children being infected with coronavirus.
Traveling through the road of COVID-19 has personally has been a feat. While I have been blessed with a job that is flexible and have been allowed to work from home for a great portion of this pandemic, that did not stop the coronavirus from invading my home-my daughter and I both contracted the virus. Thankfully, this caused no financial burdens for my family and the symptoms we experienced were mild, but it definitely was an emotional battle. Mentally, dealing with the stigma of being plagued with the coronavirus caused great angst for my daughter and me. We were constantly monitoring symptoms, praying that they didn’t worsen; being isolated from family and friends was very sad and depressing. Although I was out on leave from work during this time, my daughter continued to push through her virtual assignments in order to stay abreast of her school workload.
Virtual learning has been challenging for many children, including my daughter. When many children were forced into this style of learning, it was done so suddenly and forcefully. Most of my daughter’s classes were done so by video or PowerPoint slides. Although teachers were available by email and some by zoom, this could not take the place of students receiving traditional, in-person instruction. This recourse caused my daughter to struggle even more in subjects that had already been challenging, resulting in her putting in longer hours for school. Thankfully, we were blessed with family and friends that were able to assist my daughter with tutoring in her in subjects that I could not. As I am constantly keeping a pulse on her physical and mental health, I make sure to always coach and encourage her to keep pushing forward.
Due to the challenges of virtual learning, I made the decision to send my daughter back to school for in-person learning for the second half of the school year. Coming to this decision was a strenuous and grueling process as I had to analyze the costs and benefits of her returning to the school building. Thinking about her physical well-being is and will always be a priority, but I also have to be concerned with her education. She is currently a sophomore in high school and I realize that these are her formative years and her success during this time will shape the rest of her life. I had to evaluate my daughter for the person she is and who I believe she is destined to be and concluded that sending her back to school for hybrid learning is the best decision for her. Going forward, all I can do is continue to pray that God will protect and watch over her.
As parents, dealing with our own fears and anxieties in life can be challenging; additionally, managing our children’s distress makes life more complex. Pair those angsts with what we are facing today with COVID-19 and it has made a parent’s job that much more difficult. As the number of cases continue to climb globally, we are constantly faced with making decisions for ourselves and our children that will affect our being. All we can do is refer to and trust what we know and continue to learn about this 21st century plague and hope that we will all come out on top on the other side.