Whether your kid is a freshman entering college for the first time or returning back to college, there are so many emotions we experience as parents. There are differences in a parent’s reaction to the departure of a first child, an only child or even the last child. Feelings of sadness, anxiety and depression are normal and expected responses. It is a new phase in life for them and us and represents transition and change.
However, this year - in addition to these emotions - we are experiencing more anxiety than normal due to Covid-19. The decision of whether they should return to school or continue with online learning from home is a difficult one. The dilemma is that online learning negates the need to live on or near campus. However, parents are paying anyway and part of the traditional school experience is branching out and living with other people outside of your family. Online learning eliminates the socialization that is important at this stage of one’s life. Another fear is the parties and other gatherings. Can we trust that our kid will social distance, stay away from crowds, wear a face covering and practice proper precautions? This is a concern for many parents. Another point to consider is that online learning is not for everyone. How your child learns is also an important factor. Do they learn better face –to-face in a classroom setting rather than virtually?
Staying home may impact your child emotionally and mentally even with the technology of social media. It can be an isolating experience and one that can cause depression, sadness and melancholy.
We have to consider the possibility of our child getting the virus. We then have to decide whether they quarantine at school or home? We would worry either way. At school, we would not be able to provide any assistance and at home we have the risk of them passing it onto other family members.
None of us have been faced with a pandemic of this kind. It is natural to have self-doubt, fear and worry. You can be sure of one thing and that is that every family who has a college student is facing this dilemma at this time. No one can say with 100% certainty whether it’s best to keep them home for online learning or send them to school. We are trying to figure it out as we go.
We need to find some comfort in knowing that schools are working closely with local health officials to review and update their school procedures. Check with your child’s school and ask what their protocol will be in terms of routine cleaning and disinfecting classrooms, etc. Many have implemented safety procedures such as temperature checking and installing hand sanitizing stations.
On the other hand, you can evaluate the first semester and then move forward from there. Nothing is permanent. If your child feels comfortable and safe, those are the most important factors to consider.