BOSTON (CBS) — Concord mom Kara Lyons is enjoying this extra time with her teenagers, but when it comes to online learning, she and the kids have their limits.
“We have our ups and downs like anything,” she said. “Some days are great, some days [the kids] are like, ‘Mom, I can’t look at the screen any more, I have a headache.”
Lyons said she has her fingers crossed that her kids, 13-year-old Gunnar and 14-year-old Katlyn, will be able to return to their schools in the fall.
“Of course I’m worried about the health of the kids, but saying that, there are so many other parts, the physical, the mental, they need to be around their peers,” she said.
Billerica Superintendent Tim Piwowar is working with a group of educators from around the state, trying to weigh the options and decide what is in the best interest of kids in terms of their education and their health.
“The one thing we know is we really don’t know where we are going to be from a health perspective in September,” he said.
With a vaccine unlikely before September, Piwowar said schools will have to maintain physical distancing. “Which means that we know that it is highly likely that we are going to engage in some sort of remote learning in the fall,” he said.
This could mean alternating schedules so half of students are in classrooms, while the other half work remotely at home. To manage crowded hallways, schools may keep students in one classroom and have some teachers move from room to room. Piwowar said this would work well with music and art classes. There has also been talk of the possibility of delivering lunch, and breakfast, in many cases, to classrooms to avoid cafeteria crowds.
Transportation is another challenge. “We need to do something that is acknowledging the fact that putting 60 elementary school kinds on a bus is not going to be a reality in September,” he said.
School officials also understand it is not practical to expect parents to get their kids to school every day, so this remains a sticking point.
Personal protective equipment is another issue. Will students need to wear masks? Will there be enough to go around? Piwowar also noted that expecting some kids to wear a mask all day may be asking a lot, particularly younger kids.
“They may be more likely to touch their face because they are not used to having [a mask] and that may defeat the purpose,” he said.
According to Piwowar, whether students are in class, learning from home or a combination, schools will be prepared.
“We are confident that we are going to find a way to work this out,” he said.
Lyons is hopeful, but understands the challenges educators face.
“I think at this point, something is better than nothing,” she said. “They need that interaction. We are social beings and living with two teenagers; they need to go to school.”