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Homeschool or public school? B.C. parents facing a dilemma

July 30, 2020 - 6:00 AM

With COVID-19 cases on the rise in B.C. and public school set to resume, parents are feeling torn between sending their kids back or homeschooling in the fall. 

B.C.'s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry laid out a cohort model in a press conference today, July 29, which provided parents with some answers but others are still considering their options.

"Kids sitting in a classroom having to be distant from each other and not able to interact comfortably is going to be hard on their mental wellbeing," Vernon mom of two, Jolene Beer, said. "For kids, it could feel like a lot."

Vernon mom of three Lisa Wright is leaning towards homeschooling, primarily due to rising COVID-19 concerns.

"There’s that balance of freaking out and being scared and trying to be level-headed," she said. "We have one kid who has type-1 diabetes and that just puts her a little bit more at risk."

Beer is also concerned for the safety of her immunocompromised child, and hopes if she does send her children back in the fall, other kids will be kept home if they're sick.

"I find it is a very common thing, to show up at school and because two working households, people don’t keep their kids home when they’re sick," she said. "We’re kind of depending on people not being selfish in that sense."

Kelowna mom of three Alysha Edwards is also leaning towards homeschooling, but since she works full-time, she's hoping to hire a professional. 

"I don't want them having to return needing to wear masks, having scattered lunch hours and all the stuff that I keep hearing with all the social distancing," Edwards said.

"With kids in elementary school, can they actually tell me that they can keep all those students distanced all day and keep masks on them?"

However, there are potential downsides to homeschooling too, which is making the decision extra tough for some parents.

"The idea of extra social isolation is scary," Wright said. As her daughter will be going into her first year of high school, she worries about taking that experience away.

"I know that home schooling has so many social programs out there, but I don’t know what that looks like with COVID," she said.

Yesterday, Dr. Henry stressed the importance of children returning to school. 

"We know that there's been an increase in anxiety, there's been an increase in mental health issues with young people, the number of people calling the children's helpline, the families that have had challenges in managing the children at home," she said.

"We need schools. (They) are essential to not only our economy but to our society and our community. And this is our safest way that we can move forward."

However, even teachers are apprehensive of the fall restart, according to a press release from the B.C. teacher's union.

The B.C. Teachers' Federation wants smaller group sizes, more safety measures and more time to prepare. 

READ MORE: B.C.'s teachers say back to school plan is too much, too soon

Until more concrete plans are announced, either from the province or the teachers union, many parents could be stuck weighing options without enough information to make a choice.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brie Welton or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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