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.
Marisa Martinez is a 3rd grade teacher in San Antonio's largest school district, Northside Independent School District. She's also a mother to three students.
"My two youngest one is about to enter kindergarten," Martinez said. "My son will be in first grade. And then we have our oldest daughter who is going to be entering middle school. So we have two that are transitioning into really big years during this crazy, unprecedented time."
Martinez said her family's decision about the fall has been difficult and there were lots of factors to take into account.
"This year has been really, really difficult with us going to distance learning in the past spring. We realized with both of my two that it didn't really work for everybody.... It's been really hard and a lot of thought deciding what we wanted to do for my children, because as anybody knows, not all kids are alike. But for our biggest concern for their health, we've decided to go ahead and commit to distance learning at this time. Of course, as things change, we'll have to reevaluate that and see what exactly our path is for that."
She also said her family's health history played a significant role in the decision.
"Honestly, my biggest concern has always been the entire time is that with this particular pandemic that we have going on, it's not just something that you get and get over. We're seeming to find out that it tends to be something that could affect your life, your health for a long time. And as a daughter of a cancer fighter, I definitely think that that's a really big deal, especially for our kids, for our kids. To have something that could affect their health for their entire life is a really big deal to me... I think that's what my biggest fear is as a parent, is that there's so many unknowns - whether they go to school or they don't. We really don't know how this is going to affect them either physically, emotionally or mentally."
Martinez said her advice to other families struggling to make a good decision is to consider that each child is different, even within the same family. She also said people should keep in mind that distance learning will be better this fall.
"I can say being a teacher and having a little more insight from our district is that they have definitely gone to work to make distance learning different than it was in the spring. They've done work this summer to try to make it better. And so it's definitely something to consider... Doing what's best for your family and what's going to be best for your kids is the top thing. I know it's hard. It doesn't work for everybody. Some people are working full time and can't afford to work from home. So definitely just family first. That's my biggest thing, is your family comes first."
See more of the conversation with Martinez below:
And we spoke to three other parents from around the San Antonio area about how they feel about sending their kids back to the school during a pandemic. See more of their stories below: