I’m a worrier. In fact, I worry so much that I start to feel anxious when I don’t have something to worry about. So, when COVID-19 began spreading across the US, my husband and I quickly pulled our two children (then 11 months- and 5 years-old) out of their Primrose school and began to self-quarantine in hopes that everything would calm down in a couple of weeks. Of course, days turned into weeks, which turned into months, and my initial concerns about health and safety were compounded with concerns about our girls missing out on learning opportunities and socialization with their peers. Not to mention the growing stress of caring for two young children while also working from home...
And so, once stay-at-home orders were lifted in Georgia, we began considering childcare options for both the summer and the school year. With so much uncertainty about the future and information changing so rapidly, the questions I had were never-ending:
- Should we keep our girls home and continue quarantining?
- How will we continue to keep up with work?
- Will our children have social development delays by not playing with other children?
- Will they be behind in their reading and math skills?
- Is private school safer than public school?
- Can my rising Kindergartener learn virtually?
- Is there enough wine to calm the anxiety of making these decisions?!
We considered everything from an in-home nanny and at-home virtual learning support to in-person learning in our local public school. Ultimately, we decided to weigh our options against three priorities: health and safety; continuity of care and education; and cost.
Cost quickly ruled out an in-home nanny, and the virtual learning experience that we had during the spring gave us concern that our daughter may not stay engaged learning from home. And so, when communicating with our local public school, private schools and child care providers, our highest priority was to understand the measures being taken to prevent the spread of illness. Our second priority was to learn what plans were in place to ensure that in the event the school had to close due to illness, learning could temporarily continue at home.
Ultimately, we chose to return to our children’s Primrose school because of the likelihood that the school would remain open for in-person care and the extensive safety measures being implemented, including: requiring all teachers and staff to wear a mask; air purification systems and frequent cleaning of classroom and play equipment; keeping children in the same class together all day; and curbside drop-off and pick-up.
The first day back felt like the first day I dropped my girls off at Primrose when they were infants. I cried, and I completely expected tears from them – we’d been home together for four months! Instead, I received pictures of two very happy girls and heard from my oldest about all the fun things she and her friends did together. Then, on their second day back, as we started to pull into the school parking lot, my youngest started to fuss. I assumed it was because she knew I was leaving her, but it was because she couldn’t wait to get out of her car seat and into her school.
As a mom, there is no better validation that we’ve made a good decision for our children.