As the normal school year rapidly approaches us (as of this writing), many parents are rightly concerned about how to safely, and yet effectively, allow their children to resume their education. According to a recent University of Texas poll[1], a full 65% of Texas parents believe that it would not be safe to return their children to school now. And, that same poll, found that Texans are less approving of all levels of government and state and national leadership as the pandemic worsens in the state. Id. So, while the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) directed on July 24, 2020[2] that “communities should make every effort to support the reopening of schools safely for in person learning in the fall”[3],  many Texans have discussed, often on social media, alternatives that they hope will be safer than a normal reopening. Among the most-discussed of those ideas are traditional home schooling (which may be available to those families who have the luxury of a parent remaining home, full-time, to instruct their children), to hiring tutors for one or more families (often called “learning pods”). For other parents, it seems more important to have their children attend their schools virtually, so that they might retain social connection with their classmates, friends, and familiar school officials.

Some parents are making arrangements to either work remotely, and thereby, be available for their children, as they learn at home; or, take their children with them, to wherever they will be working[4]. Others are considering hiring a nanny or college student to monitor the children, while those kids attend school virtually. In either case, the goal is to limit children’s exposure to others, while still having them learn.

Since the 2020-2021 School Year has not yet begun (again, as of the time of this writing), it is likely that some of these approaches will be deemed more, or less, effective than others. And, as that occurs, some approaches will be either dropped or modified, in an attempt to make them better. Additionally, new approaches will probably be developed.

For those children who will be returning to their schools this Fall, the CDC suggests that exposure be limited to a select group of people for each student. This procedure is called “cohorting.” In describing this procedure, the CDC tells us that “Cohorting forms groups of students, and sometimes teachers or staff, that stay together throughout the school day to minimize exposure for students, teachers, and staff across the school environment. Ideally, students and staff within a cohort would only have physical proximity with others in the same cohort. This practice may help prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, by limiting cross-over of students, teachers, and staff to the extent possible…[5]” This procedure should be available for children who either attend school full-time (on a traditional basis), or part-time, through a “hybrid” model, in which kids attend their schools on certain days, as remote learn on others.

School Year 2020-2021 will, in all likelihood, be memorable for both parents and children, because of its uniqueness. The challenging nature of this school year is instigating the creativity of parents and school officials, as we all try to ensure that our children can learn, socialize and play, in a safe and effective manner. This topic may be one that we return to further discuss as events develop.


3 Judging by its statements about children returning to school, by in July, 2020, the CDC seemed to be significantly less concerned about the health threats posed by that return than they were in March, 2020.
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4 Obviously, this arrangement works better for parents who work in an office setting, rather than in a factory, construction site, oil field or ranch.

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