Column: School Reopening Plans: How Do Students And Parents Feel?

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By Emily Milgrim

The reopening of schools this fall, specifically the Port Washington School District, is a sensitive topic for most, as there seems to be “no right answer.” It is acknowledged that the Port Washington, along with many other administrations are trying their best to make the return to school doable and safe for students, teachers and parents. However, with the current plans in place for the elementary, middle and high school levels changing daily, many parents are hesitant to send their children back to school and many students are weary to return. On the flip side, there are parents who are eager to send their students back to learn and feel that with Nassau’s low infection rate, no better time than now. As a rising senior, it is sad to wrap my head around the idea of not returning full time for my final year as a Port Washington student, however, with the risk of COVID-19, I understand that I have to do what is best for my greater community, even if that means staying home.

Almost all parents and students of our community are passionate about this topic as it pertains to the health of their families and their community, so I gathered some common opinions from residents.

The feeling of hesitance is one that many parents have when asked if they are planning to send their children back to school. This uncertainty is felt among parents with children in all levels of schooling, however, because each school’s plan is unique, some are more comfortable sending than others. Additionally, the unease of whether or not students will comply with all guidelines 100 percent of the time worries many as well.

When asked “Are you hesitant to send your kids to school and do you think your comfort level varies based on grade level?”, local mom, Annie M., stated, “I’m hesitant to do anything and everything, but we need to find ways to adjust and live our lives through this pandemic. I have faith in our community to take every precaution, so as of today my plan is to send the kids back to school. Most importantly, I think it is every family’s responsibility to make sure their children know how to keep themselves and others safe. Teaching the kids how to be safe in school (and anywhere out of the house) needs to start at home. If we stick together as a community, working with the school district’s protocols, and teaching our kids what’s right and wrong at home, I have faith that we will be okay.”

Similarly, when asked about feelings on returning to Schreiber, senior Charlotte K. said, “I am excited for a sense of normalcy, but at the same time it will be really weird to be back when we don’t know if it is 100 percent safe. The school district has done a good job of making plans, but it will be difficult to stay safe if students do not comply.” Moreover, first-time PWSD parents are faced with the challenge of Kindergarteners. These young children do not fully comprehend the situation like an older student, making this situation extremely tricky. Kindergarten parent Amanda B. said, “It’s a very unnerving time to be a parent of a kindergarten student. These kids are forced to face a new school and a new environment which is challenging enough without the distancing procedures and safety protocols in place. As a parent, I was happy to see the addition of a virtual option which lets individual families make the best decision for them and their children. Unfortunately, school will not look the same for the foreseeable future, so we need to have options to give each child their best chance for success.”

These concerns amongst all age levels are very common and understandable. As a community, it is crucial that we enforce safety guidelines and hold our children and ourselves accountable during this difficult time. I am confident that our schools and greater community will persevere through this and come out stronger, but it is important to acknowledge the potential risks that school may bring.

—Emily Milgrim is a student at Schreiber High School in Port Washington

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