COLUMN: We want the best for our kids

By SCOTT MIMS / Staff Writer

Few things are as important as our children’s education. That’s why the decision parents must make regarding their kids as we near the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year is not one to be taken lightly.

I am a parent, and I’m in the process of making the same decision, so I know what many people are going through. I must decide whether my son will attend school in person or stay at home and do virtual learning.

Key to this decision is weighing the trade-offs. Obviously, many parents will opt for virtual learning in an attempt to avoid infection. Others will conclude that on-campus learning and the social interaction that comes with it are too valuable to miss. Still, others don’t have a choice. There are single parents and others who work full-time jobs who don’t have the luxury of choosing.

Today, I’m already learning of instances in neighboring states where school districts are dealing with COVID-19 infections, some after only one day of school. While I hate to hear of such incidents, I can’t say that I’m surprised—until our country gets a good handle on this disease, it’s going to happen.

When I listen to experts and leaders, I’m hearing two distinct messages—one that says we must double down on the precautions we are taking, and another that says we must adapt to this virus. I believe the answer is a combination of these two approaches. It would be foolish to not take any precautions at all. Still, it’s also foolish to think that this virus is just going to go away—we need to have a mindset of adaptation.

If you find yourself among those who favor virtual learning, I hear you. It is not a sign of weakness to want to protect your family. After all, when we opened up the economy it wasn’t because it was safe—it was because we decided we couldn’t afford to stay in lockdown. But when it comes to our kids, we want to protect them.

Those who favor in-person instruction obviously want their kids to have social interaction and as much normalcy as possible. This includes sports, band practice and all the extracurriculars that are impossible to do without a group.

School districts in Shelby County, I believe, are doing the best they can to make things safe for their students. The staggered schedules should allow for those in traditional classrooms to be properly socially distanced while on campus.

Also, there are organizations like the YMCA making things easier for parents as well. The Y of Greater Birmingham will offer a remote learning and childcare program including full-day, partial-day or hybrid options for online schooling—in addition to fun activities.

To many, programs like this are a godsend. For more information, visit Ymcabham.org/school-age-childcare.