U is for uncommon. The alarming pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (called MIS-C or PMIS) that tragically took the lives of four US children is understandably causing much fear around sending children back to school. But the medical community continues to emphasize the relatively low numbers of kids impacted. “Experts say that parents shouldn’t agonize over the condition,” according to the New York Times. It’s a point confirmed by Elizabeth Lloyd, M.D., pediatric infectious diseases physician at Michigan Medicine C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital: “This condition is extremely rare.” Parents do need to stay vigilant and watch for symptoms, as most children can avoid serious complications if the illness is caught early.
V is for Vacations. We may see more flexibility in the school calendar. K-12 schools may take their cues from colleges, shifting start dates, running classes throughout the summer, and adjusting schedule breaks to respond to outbreaks. We wish V was for vaccine.
W is for Working Parents. “No credible scientist, learning expert, teacher, or parent believes that children aged 5 to 10 years can meaningfully engage in online learning without considerable parental involvement,” writes Dr. Christakis in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, of which he is editor-in-chief. Imagine the logistical jiujitsu facing a working parent with multiple kids at different schools. Each child, theoretically, could have different drop-off and pick-up times, different designated school days, and otherwise require assistance with remote learning. With carpooling and after-care programs potentially off the table, pandemic playdate politics fraught, and caregivers and grandparents still at risk, there aren’t enough head-exploding emojis in the world to convey this quagmire.
X is for the X factor. Will there be a second wave of the virus this fall and winter? Will fewer high schoolers apply to college if it’s online only? Student athletes and those pursuing arts scholarships are facing unprecedented complications and delays. Are students with learning differences falling behind due to a lack of in-person support? Are teachers missing signs to flag kids for early intervention services? What about the digital divide? Schools and families will be dealing with the fallout of this crisis not just next year, but for years.
Y is for youth sports. The CDC urges schools to “minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to players, families, coaches, and communities.” But sports are by nature high touch, sweaty and intimately interactive. Safety guidelines from the US Olympic and Paralympic Olympic Committee suggest players bring—and exclusively touch—their own equipment, practice outside wearing masks, and maintain distance. But no matter how you slice it, the most popular school sports—basketball, football, volleyball, baseball, soccer, gymnastics, hockey and tennis—are still classified as “moderate risk.”
Z is for Zoom. It’s the remote learning platform we love to hate and hate to love. And we cannot wait to kiss it goodbye.