DAPHNE, Ala. (WALA) — Baldwin County parents greeted Alabama’s school reopening plan much as their counterparts across the state — with uncertainty.
State schools Superintendent Eric Mackey’s “roadmap” contains a host of recommendations designed to limit the chances of outbreaks of the novel coronavirus. But the blueprint allows local schools districts great flexibility in implementing those plans.
Individual parents will have to make their own decisions, as well.
“It’s good because that gives every family the ability to choose what’s best for them, as opposed to making it mandatory,” said Whitney Sheldon, a Daphne mother with four boys between the ages of 2 and 13.
Sheldon has three full-time jobs outside the house, while her husband works from home. That gives the family some options when it comes to the education of their boys starting in August.
Sheldon told FOX10 News she would like her sons to go back to school, but it’s a decision the family will not make right away.
“We’re going to sit down as a family and talk, and we’re going to decide, or let them decide, what they feel is best for them,” she said. “Because all we can do is send them to school with the tools for them to keep themselves safe while they’re there and then, do whatever we can precautionary once they get home to, you know, keep our family safe.”
Fairhope resident Amanda Roberson said she was disappointed that Mackey’s outline lacked specificity.
“I thought it was kind of vague,” she said. “It was almost pointless. ... What they talked about today could be completely different.”
Roberson said she worries about her children’s health. But she added that the experience of distance learning when COVID-19 forced the closure of school buildings in March showed the challenges of juggling her own job with helping to teach four children in four different grades.
“It’s almost impossible to be a teacher for four different grades. ... That’s a lot of subjects,” she said.
The way school plays out in the fall will affect more than just parents and teachers. Johnnie Frost, who owns KinderKids Learning Center in Belforest, said it will also impact her business.
She told FOX10 News that the day care offered digital learning to the young children and their older siblings after schools closed in March. She said the center will be prepared to do that again, if necessary.
“Our sense is parents want to go back to normal,” she said. “You know, I think that everybody has gotten to the point where our parents are very comfortable with what we are doing. We already had very strict guidelines as far as what we were doing with cleaning”
Regardless of the choices that schools and families make over the summer, Baldwin parents seem to realize that this school year will be a work in progress.