Reopening Schools: A Sore Subject for Parents

July 15, 2020

Republicans may be out campaigning to open schools, but they'll have their work cut out convincing a growing number of parents. A new poll from Axios shows a landslide of concerns from families -- with a whopping 71 percent worried that reopening schools carries "large" or "moderate" risk. And it's not just Democrats (82 percent) who think so, but a majority of Republicans (53 percent) too. What does that mean for the fall? It's time to explore your options!

Like a lot of homeschooling moms, Candice Dugger has spent the last several months giving pep talks to her friends. Most of them had to turn into teachers overnight, as their kids tried to transition to learning at home. For a lot of them, distance-learning was a nightmare. Like the video of the Israeli mom that went viral, they wanted to scream, "It's not working ... this distance-learning thing. It's impossible!... If we don't die of corona, we'll die of distance learning!"

But what is a full-time working mom supposed to do? Are there options when both parents have careers? Candice says yes. On "Washington Watch" with Sarah Perry Tuesday, she wanted people to know: In 2020, homeschooling isn't what most people think it is. She has two boys herself. And, like a lot of parents, she's tried public school and private school -- and neither really worked. She ended up homeschooling her boys and liked it so much that she founded Reimagine Education Conference with the goal of helping parents -- even full-time working ones -- make the transition.

For some parents, though, like Sarah and her husband, working full-time jobs in addition to homeschooling seems daunting. What do you say to them, Sarah asked? The first thing, Candice tells people, is: "It will be okay. You have been equipped with all that you need to do this. And in today's world, there are so many solutions... My husband and I also own businesses. I travel and speak nationally -- and so we're very busy. But we're able to make our children's education a part of our family." Everyone has to have a plan that works for them, she urged. Maybe that means a hybrid set-up or outsourcing or telecommuting some classes. The most important thing is knowing what's available.

As part of our conference, she says, we try to address: "How are you going to work without sacrificing your business? How do you work and homeschool at the same time? How do you organize during the crisis? What are time management technologies and advancements you can use to make the days easier for you? What are tech tips? And then as people are moving more online, how are you keeping your children with online safety and balancing screen time and protection versus education solution?"

Then, if they have a child with special needs: "How are they going to implement their IEP at home? What are tele-therapies they can use? So all of those are brought together in ways that parents can create a plan for their family -- one-on-one, simplified, without being forced into an education system they may not agree with being forced into the constraints of time."

The important thing is finding something that keeps your children challenged and engaged, is tailored to their learning style, works with the family's schedule, and sets them up for success. It will take some getting used to, Candice admits, but there are solutions. "We've been used to putting our children in school all day, and now -- for kindergarten, first grade, second grade, 60 or 90 minutes a day is all it takes. What are you going to do with the rest of your day? If you have a high schooler, you might need four to five hours. You need to be thinking about really where you need support as a working parent. Are you looking for childcare solutions or education solutions? And bringing those together are really important to creating a plan. But it doesn't have to be 8am-4pm."

To check out the Reimagine conference at the end of this month, visit the website. There are literally dozens of talks and resources that will help get your family on its way!