Parents struggling with virtual school

College students, who are also parents, are struggling to balance their own studies along with helping their children with virtual school. 

Edmond Public Schools resumed classes on Aug. 20 after nearly six months away from the classroom, but things are still far from normal. 

The Edmond Board of Education approved the 2020-2021 school year reopening plan for students on July 28.

The board voted that students who were not enrolled in Virtual Edmond, which is a fully online option that will be provided to K-12, would start the school year by attending in-person classes two days a week and take remote learning classes three days a week.

Known as the blended model of instruction, this learning option aligns with the Oklahoma State Department of Education, SDE, School Safety Protocols. 

The district is also altering its transportation schedules for the 2020-2021 school year. To help alleviate overcrowding on the buses, the district has added a middle school route which will require a change in start time at the middle schools from 7:50 a.m. to 7:40 a.m.

Middle schools would dismiss at 2:15 p.m. instead of 2:40 p.m. to give bus drivers time to transport students home before returning to pick up high school students. 

College nursing student and mother, Katelin Speers, talks about the struggles of trying to complete her degree while helping with her 8-year-old son’s virtual school.  

“It’s something that I never thought I would face,” she said. “As a mother, you always plan your schedule around your kids, and that normally includes them being gone to school from about 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. everyday.” 

Public education is something that is required for all children in the United States, and therefore, it is not something that parents ever imagine having to add to their parental duties.

“The most difficult part is the time constraints,” she said. “Not only have I had to help my son more with his more studies this year, but I also have to make sure I am around to feed and watch my child. If I can’t be there because of class or work, I have to find a babysitter, and that isn’t always easy to do.”

COVID-19 has also made things more complicated when it comes to finding a babysitter.

“I am trying to limit the amount of people my son comes into contact with, for his sake and others,” she said. “But on some days, I just can’t be at home, so it puts me in a tough position.”

The struggle is not limited to students, faculty also faces some of these same challenges. In an email with The Vista, Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator for the Organizational Leadership degree, Trevor Cox explained some of the stresses his family experiences.  

“I have four kids and two of them are doing online school three days a week. My wife works Tuesday / Thursday so I will have to work from home, which can be difficult with toddlers (the other two kids) and trying to help with school. It was incredibly difficult to keep my head above water in the Spring when we were working entirely from home,” Cox stated.

The courses Cox teaches are online anyway, and would usually only meet twice in a semester pandemic or not. However, having his children at home in addition to his courses is what causes the extra stress.  

“At least now I can go to the office a few days a week and get things done. But even then I try not to do much outside of the office so I don’t have to worry about catching anything. I know many of my students face the same challenges and have extra anxiety they bring with them to the classroom and that shows up even online,” Cox stated.

Currently, Edmond Public Schools are still offering the blended model of instruction, but if there is a large increase in COVID-19 cases it may force them to go fully virtual. 

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