With some schools starting back next week, many parents have concerns with sending their child back to school. Between COVID-19, Monkeypox, teacher shortages, and school safety, there are a lot of different elements that parents are worrying about. Will my child be safe? What protection measures are put in place if an active shooter comes on campus? What health measures are put in place to help combat COVID and Monkeypox? In this interview, Tamara Frear, mom to five-year-old Zaria King, opens up about her concerns regarding the upcoming school year.
Afram News: With Covid numbers on the rise and with the new Monkeypox outbreak, what health concerns do you have sending your child back to school?
Frear: One of the health concerns I have is just the protection of all the kids, especially with Monkeypox since this is something new for the students…I have a five-year-old who is going to the first grade. How are they going to stop them from touching things? Kids are going to be kids, and we have Lysol and wipes, but you can’t stop a kid from being a kid… I am actually sending mine back to school with a mask on every day. You will wear your mask on at all times and when you’re at recess and finish playing, use your hand sanitizer. My child is really good at that, but, I don’t know what everyone else’s child does… I’ve been trying not to think about it too much and stay prayed up about it.
Afram News: What are your concerns regarding security and safety for the school year?
Frear: So, I can only speak about my child’s school. I have been in touch with them, and I did sit on the board with them about upping their security. They have been emailing us, letting us know we have now put a new armed police officer there 24/7 while school is going on. They’ve installed new locks and new procedures on how you can even get into the school. They have made me feel safer that way…It is a very scary situation, so I try not to let my child know about too much of everything that is going on because you don’t want the kids to be nervous going back to school. So as a parent, I just asked about the safety procedures that we have in place and what procedures are they going to teach to kids at the school.
Afram News: Currently, there is a national teacher shortage, and so many districts are scrambling to find teachers, do you have concerns regarding the quality of education that your child may receive?
Frear: Yes, I do have concerns because of the teacher shortage, because…thinking about last year, they were letting any and everybody drive a bus. If you had a license or, had a certification, you could drive the school buses, or you could go sit in the classroom and watch the kids. And, my concern is, are we going to be doing that again? And if we are, if they are not certified teachers or working on their teacher certifications, what is my child going to be learning at school? I can do so much at home, but the children still need to have that learning experience in school. Also, I don’t want my child to be a movie watcher and just watch everything online.
Frear: I still believe that there needs to be someone teaching them using paperwork and things like that. But with the shortage, who’s going to have time for all that if we’re doubling up classes or they’re loading more kids in the class because they have 400 fourth graders and not enough teachers. So, do you cancel classes, or do you double them up in classrooms? Now each child is not getting the benefits of having not the one-on-one but with the ratio of what was supposed to be had in the classroom and the attention that each particular child may need.
Afram News: What are other concerns you have?
Frear: The other concerns that I have is making sure that the teachers are not stressed out either or making sure that they have somewhat of a work-life balance, because that is very important to the teachers and the students…It is very important because if a teacher is in good spirits and not overworked and not stressed out, then they can help the children to become a better performer.
I make sure I do my due diligence at home and make sure that I’m involved in my child’s schooling and education because that is very important. As parents, we can’t always put it on the teachers. That’s why a lot of teachers are coming out because they’re finding that parents are not doing what they are supposed to.
Afram News: What advice do you have for parents for the upcoming school year?
Frear: The advice I have for parents this 2022-2023 school year is to stay involved in your student’s education and the school safety protocols. Also educate your student on how important it is to stay safe, pay attention to your surroundings all the time, and for the little ones about the importance of washing hands. If you will be letting your child wear a mask, let them know its for their protection and the protection of others around them no matter what anyone tells them.