As a parent, there is no question I agonize over more than this: Should I send my kids back to school in the fall during the coronavirus pandemic?
The school question dominates conversations with my husband, with my friends (in person, as we wear masks and stand 6 feet apart, and over endless text chains), and with work colleagues.
The anxiety is all-consuming. And everyone has an opinion. Judgment over whether to opt for all-virtual lessons, or form an expensive (and, some say, exclusionary) “pod, ” or try in-person schooling is endless — and exhausting. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for any family.
Still, as most parents search for answers, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta announced Wednesday that his family had made a decision. After touring his three daughters’ school to check out its safety plans (which include a mask mandate and taking over gyms and the cafeteria to ensure social distancing), meeting with the administration and examining the infection rate where they live, in Georgia — a state that recently recorded its highest single-day coronavirus death toll — he is not going to send his kids to school in the fall, opting instead for all-virtual learning. “It is a lot to consider, but in the minds of our family, the evidence is clear, ” Gupta wrote in a much-discussed essay. “After considering all the objective criteria and assessing the situation in our own community, we have made the decision to keep our girls out of school for the time being. This was not an easy decision, but one that we believe best respects the science, decreases the risk of further spread and follows the task force criteria. ”
I called Dr. Gupta to ask him about his choice, and hopefully gain more insight into my own. Speaking from his home as his three daughters logged on to their first day of remote schooling, Gupta detailed the questions all parents should be asking, how age plays a role and the three factors his family considered in their own decision making.
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