Having To Choose: COVID and School

Returning to pre-COVID-19 life has been a concern for those in the CF community since March. It has been especially concerning for those with school-aged children because the chances of exposure to the virus increases immensely. Most people with CF have been living in isolation for months and having a CF child go from the safety of their home to the public of school during COVID is a risk that many parents aren't sure they want to take chances on.

Schools are inherently germy

We all know that attending school means subjection to germs. On any given day, without COVID, this is already a worry parents have. Add a virus that can cause major medical issues for anyone without regard to age, and this is a huge concern. For months we have been told to stay inside and away from others in order to decrease our exposure.1

School here in our state switched to online learning in March and since then, our son has stayed here at home. Now that school is scheduled to begin in a few weeks, we are being told that he should go back.

Despite the extreme rise in cases.2

Despite more children being diagnosed.3

Despite parents refusing to wear masks.

Despite people coming back from vacations in other states.

Despite the obvious concern for those with pre-existing conditions.1

Do we send our kids back to school during COVID?

The question remains: Do we send our child with CF to school during COVID even though it is still not completely safe for those without an underlying medical issue to go grocery shopping?4 I am still on the fence about feeling safe enough to go to work, so I am extra anxious about having him attend school.

Our school district (if school attendance does resume this fall) will institute mask-wearing, extra handwashing, social distancing, and other precautions. I appreciate these and I am thankful that they are on board with doing what they can in order to keep kids safe, but is it enough for those children who need extra defense, such as kids with CF? In a situation like this, is it better to keep your child at home?

What are our options?

There is so much that goes into making this decision. What kind of options are available online? What about extra-curricular activities? Is this something we can make work for our family? Does his sibling attend school or stay home? What about having to go to work?

There is no definitive answer and each comes with obstacles. We will consult with his CF care team closer to school starting and get their feedback but, ultimately, it is our call to make.

Making that call scares me. I feel like I am sacrificing his friendships and ability to get out of the house (FINALLY), staying under lock and key for something that might not ever happen. He did really well with online learning the last couple of months of school, but that was also really unconstrained learning and not very accountable because of the unsureness of what was happening. While I have nothing but respect for those that homeschool, but we are not a homeschool family.

Are your kids with CF going back to school?

We are having to make a huge decision that those without children with CF might not understand. The clock is ticking for CF parents--and it is a decision that we are trying to reach every day.

What about your family? Will your child with CF be returning to school during COVID? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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