From The Confessional: Worries About Returning To School

by Karen Johnson
Originally Published: 
Medical face mask
Kseniya Ovchinnikova/Getty

Remember back in March when everything shut down and we couldn’t fathom the thought of online learning through the rest of the school year? Then it happened. Then we couldn’t imagine not going to pools or amusement parks or on vacation or sending our kids to camp all summer. Now we’re living it. And the next thing we’ll be faced with—that we can’t yet wrap our heads around but we’ll have to eventually—is continuing e-learning in the fall.

COVID is still here and spreading like wildfire. We know what will happen as it flies through the halls of schools, packed with sticky-fingered kids who likely won’t keep their masks on and will forget to social distance. We’re scared to send them back. We’re scared for their teachers. We’re not sure how we’ll manage more months of quarantine. We don’t know what to do.

Our confessional is full of worries from parents just like you—parents who know their kids need school. Who have to get back to work. But who know that COVID-19 debilitates families and ravages bodies once it takes hold. And who can realistically predict that a return to school in the fall is not going to go well.

I'm terrified of schools reopening. My oldest is in the high risk category and we just cant mess around with a chance of her getting covid.

Confessional #25788095

We will probably have to homeschool next year due to covid because one of my kids is high risk. I have to work out of the home and ex works from home but is useless with making them do the work now. I’ll do my best but I’m worried.

Confessional #25782516

I want the schools to be online in the fall. Yes it sucks. Yes it’s hard. But reading about people losing limbs and having their blood literally removed for it to be oxygenated again is giving me panic attacks. Covid is not a cold people

Confessional #25787935

Whether your family has someone who’s high-risk or not, we’ve learned that this virus does not discriminate. It also takes down people who are normally healthy and have no pre-existing conditions. None of us is truly immune.

I am fearful that if school resumes, a hole parents will send kids in sick and end it all for everyone again!

Confessional #25786420

My state’s governor has declared that schools will be open in the fall, while cases are still going up. I have one in elem one in middle and I work in another elem. I predict disaster.

Confessional #25784606

It’s hard to be optimistic right now that this will end in anything but a catastrophe.

Kiddo went back to preschool today. It's good for him, and for me, but I miss him and worry about him.

Confessional #25786026

We love our preschool and it's great for kiddo in so many ways....but I kind of want to just keep him home now. Scared of COVID, and it's nice to save the $$. I just don't think I can successfully WFH with him home...

Confessional #25784680

I might have to hire a nanny to watch and teach ds7 this fall. Wtf?! I might as well enroll him at the private school where I work.

Confessional #25784831

We don’t know what to do. We can’t afford to keep them home, but we cannot afford the risk to send them.

I don’t think my city is ready for kids to go back to school this fall. If they make kids go back physically, I’m home schooling them until this pandemic is over.

Confessional #25782840

If my ds9 has 3 wear a mask 2 go 2 school we will be homeschooling. I just know he would last about 5 min before he over heated and ripped it off

Confessional #25781873

I'm a city administrator and people (without young kids, of course) are making plans for how school in September would look. They want kids as young as 2 in masks all day. I have a 6 year old. I *won't* send him if that is the only safe way to do it.

Confessional #25780932

Expecting young children to social distance and wear masks is absurd. The teachers will probably spend more time reminding them to stay apart and keep their masks up than they will actually teaching.

We decided the kids would do online school this year to be safe. But I work in a school, in a preschool classroom. I'm definitely getting Covid. I literally work in a germ factory. I love the kids but so much snot....

Confessional #25787882

DH and I are both teachers. I’m healthy but he has severe asthma. It’s scary knowing that we will almost 100% catch COVID when school opens. But we have to work or we lose the house :(

Confessional #25787690

I work in a school. Terrified to go back. This can't end well. Schools are so germy and there is no way to do what CDC is giving as guidelines. Too many areas for mistakes and thus outbreaks.

Confessional #25787668

The school I work for don't give a fuck about their staff

Confessional #25783471

And then there are the teachers, who once again, are tasked with the impossible. Will they receive frequent tests? Will they be somehow protected? Will districts cover their sick leave if they are unable to work for months?

This nightmare gives us no good options. There is no clear, safe path, but rather, huge risk no matter how you slice it—one one hand, you will likely expose your children to the virus. On the other, you continue to deprive them of social interaction, which they so desperately need. And parents all over America rely on the income they earn while their kids are in school.

We wish there was an answer, but that’s not how a pandemic works. All we can do is make the best choice for our families based on the information we have at the time. We must remember to offer extra grace and patience to parents continuing to monitor online learning while working full time from home. And, we must also offer extra grace and patience to their teachers—both online and in person—who continue to go above and beyond out of love and commitment for their students. Teachers who will risk everything to return to their classrooms in a few short weeks, despite our country still being in the throes of COVID-19.

This article was originally published on