The year 2020 has not been kind for most. In fact, it has been especially cruel to many, and it is not over yet. As September fast approaches, the school year presents challenges of its own.
On Aug. 7, the Rochester Public School District announced plans to start the school year with a hybrid model for elementary-age students. That involves two days a week in class and three days of distance learning. As a single mother of two elementary-age daughters, I stare at the juggling challenge before me with anxiety and fear.
I am grateful to live within a district that takes my children’s and teachers’ health and safety seriously enough to limit in-person exposure, But this still leaves the daunting task of teaching my daughters three days a week while still working a full-time job.
My youngest daughter, who is starting kindergarten, will be learning to read this year. She has been in a preschool program that gives her an advantage, but I am not a substitute for the in-class instruction she would normally receive for this important, foundational knowledge.
The option to continue my daughters’ attendance at their daycare center for those distance learning days is preferable, but very costly.
I am also reconsidering my own educational goals. I had been attending one class a semester at RCTC since last fall to slowly finish my degree. I have not registered for a fall class as of yet, concerned about juggling another big thing.
I try to remind myself how lucky I am during this pandemic. I have not lost anyone I love to COVID-19 and am so thankful for that. I still have a job and it is a job I can do from home. I am grateful that I have been able to pay my bills and am not facing eviction like so many. I have a family support system that so many single parents don’t have.
I am better off than so many during this stressful time, and I try to remind myself of that.
Some days, trying to plan the best course of action for my daughters has brought me to tears. It will be a juggling act of epic proportions for all parents, not just myself.
But as stressful as it is, it is a lot less stressful than planning a funeral for one of them.
For me, if it means keeping my daughters safe from a virus that can potentially kill them, the benefits completely outweigh the costs and I will do my best to keep juggling.
Kelsey Hawley is a newsroom clerk at the Post Bulletin. She grew up in Rochester and has been a Rochester homeowner since 2009.