Parents had hard choices to make this school year

| September 18, 2020

Aubree Bantum is pictured on her way to start her fourth-grade year. (Submitted)

This 2020-21 school year has given parents a lot to consider and a lot of say. Parents have had to carefully think about what is best for their children, what’s most important when it comes to their child and what works for their family.

With a terrible virus going around, the ever-changing health recommendations over the summer and the changes schools had to implement, parents have not had an easy time deciding whether to send their children to school for face-to-face instruction, to participate in remote learning or to choose another alternative like home-schooling. Factors such as the safety of their children, the opportunity for their children to socialize, how their children would best learn and the health of their children definitely were at the forefront of parents’ minds as the school year began.
Melissa Bantum, mother of 9-year-old Aubree, who is in fourth grade and receiving face-to-face instruction at Coshocton Elementary, explained her daughter struggled doing online schooling at the end of last school year and learns better in a classroom setting. However, as a mother, her biggest fear was how her daughter’s “whole school experience would be so different,” and the thought of her having to wear a mask all day was a concern as well.
Bantum said, “First and foremost was what my daughter wanted to do and then to find out what safety precautions the school had in place. I was very scared letting her go back to school, but after the first week and hearing about all the safety precautions going on, I feel much better about everything.”
Bantum said the school seems to have everything in order. “Coshocton Elementary seems to have all precautions in place needed to keep the kids safe. Her teacher has really helped in making sure the kids feel comfortable and putting their fears at ease. I think they are trying to make the year as ‘normal’ as possible for the children,” she said.
And according to Bantum, wearing a mask all day has not been an issue as Aubree’s teacher gives the children plenty of mask breaks throughout the day.
Bantum also reported her daughter is adjusting to the changes at school well and has said she loves being with all of her friends again and even prefers eating lunch in her classroom instead of in the cafeteria. “I am very happy with my decision, especially after Aubree came home from her first day of school and said, ‘I had an awesome day,’” she said.
Linda Farley, a mother with a child in third grade and one in kindergarten, shared part of the struggle for her family in making the decision whether to do remote learning or face-to-face instruction was due to the health of her children and how wearing a mask all day would impact their health. She admitted her children wanted to go to school so they could be with their friends and see their teachers, and she wanted the children to be able to go to school too.
“We didn’t want to put our kids in school because of government over-reach forcing kids to wear masks dang near all day. And I’m going to choose my child’s health over my stress level any day of the week,” Farley said.
Due to their convictions, the Farleys chose to begin the school year at home learning remotely. However, Farley said there were complications with this method of learning. “I can tell you my stress level is very high because all of this is new. Remote learning is a 180-degree change from in-school learning. All day school is pushed into one hour for kindergarten and around two hours for third grade. Parents are left with the teaching after that,” she said.
Farley also shared how her children struggled with being stuck in a chair looking at a screen, not being able to run around or play with their pets or younger sibling even though they could see and hear them. Between the distractions and computer challenges such as the computer freezing up, not working correctly, not being able to log into Zoom and more, remote learning became more of a challenge.

Benjamin and Kalea Treat were all smiles on their first day of school. (Submitted)

Farley explained she and her husband decided to make the change from remote learning when her son’s computer started to not want to load Zoom for his classroom meeting, and then after they finally got on, she tried four times to get the teacher’s attention so they could be let in the meeting and it ended up taking 40 minutes to get her son into the Zoom meeting.

“I knew then that it’s just not going to work for us because my kids are unable to learn like that and it’s not fair to my son or my daughter because of an internet connection fail or something like that,” Farley said. “Honestly, the kids didn’t like it. They love school. It was very hard for my kids because they missed their friends and teachers. And I missed my kids going to school to learn.”
Therefore, the family decided to stop participating in remote learning and enrolled their children in the Coshocton Christian School.
Farley explained how her oldest had gone to the Christian school for preschool and kindergarten and absolutely loved that school before transferring to Ridgewood. Both children knew other kids at the school and had friends going there and knew they would get to meet new people too.
“When my children found out they were going to go to the Christian school, they literally jumped for joy. They were so excited to be able to enjoy the classroom setting and make new friends,” Farley said.
Similarly, the mother of a first-grader and a preschooler, Kelly Treat shared how her family also made the switch from public to private education.
“Each child is different. We had to make decisions based on our children’s needs. Initially, I had deep concerns about my two young, healthy children being forced to wear a mask all day because our children have worn both masks and face shields when in public. We have found the face shield is a better option for breathability. My kids hate wearing masks. They both have complained about how hot wearing a mask makes them. Therefore, one of our biggest concerns was their physical health and how mask wearing would affect their education,” Treat said.
Treat went on to share that her daughter loves her first year of school, and her son loves his new school and has made many friends already. In addition, the principal of the Coshocton Christian School was kind enough to sit down with the Treats and answer all of their questions, hear their concerns and be a listening ear for them.
“The one positive thing that has come out of this pandemic is us making the move from public to private education,” Treat said. “For whatever reason, as parents, we were able to see the needs of our children clearly. We are strong believers in giving our children a Christian worldview, and in the times we live in, we feel it is vital that we get this right.”
Treat did admit switching to private education is a financial sacrifice for her family but said, “I know it is well worth it to see our children thrive.”
Needless to say, there have been numerous factors for parents to consider and challenges for parents to overcome this school year, but above everything, parents have been willing to sacrifice their sanity, their fears and concerns, and their finances in an effort to do what is best for their children.

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