Kids need to go back to school, local working moms say

Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 12:05 AM CDT
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MCLENNAN COUNTY, Texas (KWTX) - As McLennan County health officials weigh-in on the reopening of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, many working moms say they have no other option than to send their children back to the classroom.

"I definitely think that kids need to go back to school in the Fall," said Nicole Pittman. "What we need for our children, is to be as normal as possible, especially during all of this chaos."

A single-mother of two young boys, Pittman is defending the return of in-person learning, saying it's a necessity for working moms like her who are the sole providers of the household.

Trying to explain COVID-19 and its impacts to her boys, Pittman says, has been next to impossible.

"Being five and seven, they really didn't understand all this," said Pittman.

Somethings Pittman definitely now understands: she's not a good teacher, and she can't be a stay-at-home mom.

"A fight for an hour or two hours to get them to do ten minutes of school work was probably my biggest challenge," said Pittman.

Pittman says other challenges have been childcare and money, and in order to have both, she has to go to work.

"I can't really load up two kids and hit the streets and go try to sell," said Pittman.

And sales aren't exactly up--the working mom was forced to downsize this summer and moved from Lorena to Woodway over July Fourth weekend.

In addition, she says their routine is completely out of whack.

"They (her sons) continue to believe that they're on Spring Break," said Pittman. "Kids require a schedule, and this has been, basically, nuts."

A lot of families out there are about to crack, which is another reason why Pittman believes kids need to go back to school.

"I feel like everyone is all over the place without a schedule, and school provides that," she said.

Pittman says the summer school program she sends her kids to (when she can afford it) hasn't had any spread of the virus on-campus.

"Am I worried about my kids contracting the virus going back? No. I'm not," said Pittman. "I think that they (schools) are going to do everything that they're supposed to do to minimize the spread of the virus."

McLennan County Health Officials said Wednesday, it's not without risk, but they believe reopening schools can be done safely.

"There is some early research that's come out of Europe that suggests that a school is not as high-risk of an environment as something like a bar," said Dr. Mike Hardin, Residency Program Director at the Waco Family Health Center. "There are numerous recommendations that are excellent from the CDC on how to safely reopen a school, so it depends on how well students are wearing masks, distancing, the size of the classes and classrooms, how much of the teaching is done in-person, it depends on the ability to cohort the students...and probably the hardest part to measure is the downstream consequences of opening schools for kids who have parents or grandparents or teachers who are in high-risk categories."

While they know the higher the local incidence of COVID-19 there is, the higher the risk there is to opening schools, Hardin says there's still a lot of unknowns as far as how the virus will spread in the new school environment.

“This is an experiment, as we re-open, to see what the effects are going to be,” said Hardin. “It’s going to take careful monitoring as we do this, careful attention to the practices, and we’re just going to have to see what happens, fortunately, we’ve got a little time before school starts and we can make an impact on our local incidence before that happens.”

What you need to know about the virus and its impact on Central Texas.

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