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‘They Got to Figure It Out’: Frustration Mounts As Parents Choose Between Virtual and In-Person Learning

Countless parents all around the world are taking extra measures to keep their families healthy while trying to prevent COVID-19 from entering their homes. 

Tequilla Wallace is one of those parents. Like many others, she’s been faced with the task of sending her children to school or having them participate in virtual learning during a global pandemic. 

“As soon as my kids come home they go and get immediately out of their clothes and get in the shower. We have to make sure that they are prepared without bringing any germs home, so it’s been a bit challenging,” Wallace said. 

Wallace’s three children participate in in-person learning in Duval County Schools in Jacksonville, Florida. She said their lack of concentration was the deciding factor when she agreed to send them back into the classroom. 

“With the online, I feel like the students weren’t gaining what they needed to know like they would be in person. Even though they can see on zoom in on video they’re still not retaining as much as they would be if it was in class. And the teachers are lacking in certain areas because it’s all new to everybody,” Wallace said. 

Wallace said it’s a big risk sending her kids back to school physically, but between the connectivity issues and lack of resources for remote learning it was too difficult trying to work and teach her kids simultaneously. 

“I felt like I was a teacher. I didn’t go to school to be a teacher,” Wallace said. “This has got to stop. They got to figure it out.”

Tonya Winston of Detroit, Michigan, is another parent who’s also being extra careful to protect her family from the coronavirus. 

“My oldest son has lupus so I felt like I’d rather just keep all of them at home since he’s already at risk,” Winston said. 

Winston has four children learning remotely. The retiree is doing everything she can to help keep her entire family healthy. “If they go to school — my other three children — they’re going to bring it back inside my home and I’d rather them stay home and go to school remotely,” Winston said.

Winston said it’s also been challenging trying to keep her kids focused while learning remotely, so she had to get a bit creative. 

“At first when they were sitting on the couch or a chair and they didn’t have nothing they were like this is not school. I went out to the thrift store and found desks for these kids,” Winston said. 

She also expanded her wireless internet to help with connectivity issues that they often faced in the beginning. Although Winston is retired and has more time to commit to her kids schooling, she’s now concerned about how this will impact them socially. 

“My oldest he’s a teenager, he’s in high school, and he was like I just want to see my friends. I was like you have lupus, you have an autoimmune disease, your friends are dangerous to you; you can’t be around everybody,” Winston said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 cases are on the rise all over the U.S. There are roughly 13,928,377 coronavirus cases nationally as of Nov. 30. In Michigan, the numbers exceed 300,000 cases, and in Florida more than 900,000 cases, according to the state health data from the Florida Department of Health. Winston and Wallace are both working hard to keep their family members and themselves from being added to those counts. 

“It’s dangerous out here you know just because you think they [friends] don’t have it — It’s not under control,” Winston said. 

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