SAN ANTONIO — In 2020, parents are facing a back to school season unlike any other in recent history. In an effort to provide a variety of different perspectives, we are sharing interviews with families across the San Antonio area who are faced with a tough decision. The coronavirus pandemic forced schools to shut down in March – and as school districts prepare to start back up this fall, families are being asked to choose: distance or in-person learning. The decision isn’t easy for everyone – that’s why KENS 5 is trying to shed some light on how different families are making their decisions.
"I don’t want to be in homeschool...I do not want to do this anymore, please send me back," Heidi Coke recalls her son telling her during last spring's impromptu remote learning forced upon parents by the coronavirus pandemic.
"I know everyone's story is different...I know everyone’s background is different. No one is cookie-cutter style in every house."
In part three of our "Parenting During a Pandemic" series, we talked to Coke, who is one of many parents in the San Antonio area with an urgent need for schools to return to in-person learning. Her son, Keaton, who is going into the third grade, needs accomodations for dislexia and ADHD. Coke says she and her husband are just not equipped to educate him at home. She says the few months of remote learning at the end of the last school year were not a positive experience for her family.
"It got so bad to where he was becoming violent. He was not listening to us and a two-hour workday was turning into eight hours each day to try to get him to learn and it just wasn’t working. I don’t think he retained anything that we did last year," Coke said.
And she believes it can be done safely with the help of school staff.
"I want to make sure that all PPE is in place and that they are doing the upmost they can possibly do to maintain safety," Coke said. "I know that is hard, especially when it comes to the younger children. My son is going into the third grade and I guess that he is very immature, so it’s going to be very hard to keep him in one spot. But, I would really like plastic shields, gloves, masks, anything at all possible to help keep them safe."
Her children attend the Advanced Learning Academy in the San Antonio Independent School District. The district recently announced the first three weeks of school will be online-only. They have also indicated that the situation is fluid and could change beyond that. Coke fears that if remote learning extends beyond the three weeks, it could have dire consequences for both her kids.
"We would try to limp along as long as we can, but for us, for our family, it would be very difficult," Coke said. "If I didn’t send them back, I feel like [my son] would probably have to repeat a grade."
She says her daughter, who is about to start middle school, also struggled with distance learning.
"My daughter said 'I fell behind a little' during home school in the spring. She dropped a letter grade in a few areas and she was upset because she felt like she did not have the teacher interaction she needed for that," Coke said. "They got lazy. They did their work, but we had to beg them and it wasn’t a good experience. I’ve talked to some parents who said 'This is great, my kid loves it, we go out, we do nature stuff', but that was not the case for us."
See more of the conversation with Heidi below:
We also spoke with two other parents from around the San Antonio area about how they feel about sending their kids back to school. Check out their stories below: