I am an actively involved parent of a preschool child. She has yet to have a “normal” school year since she started last year. She started her academic career about six months before the pandemic necessitated social distancing. She has spent more time as a remote learner than in-person, and I can see her social development stunted as a result. She cannot engage in social/interpersonal learning through remote education. She is missing out on consistent interaction with friends her age. She misses diversity in her social interactions. I cannot duplicate this portion of her education. I cannot expect her to exhibit empathy and support for her classmates effectively with only screen contact. She has struggled to understand that the people on the screen are real, have lives like her and are not a part of a show. Having the choice for hybrid allows me to regain more agency in supporting my child’s growth and my household’s health and stability. Her world has been reduced by the pandemic; her orbit has been abbreviated. Having the option to expand her mind and affirm her social growth should be a choice and not dictated by the teacher’s union.

As I’ve learned about the district, its teachers, the lack of diversity and strong tendency for teachers to be suburban residents, I’ve joined a version of the PTA within my daughter’s school. As a parent I was not welcomed, but more often viewed with suspicion with efforts toward exclusion. While suburban schools have had the in-person option for longer than the RCSD, the teachers (being often suburban) have been able to see the benefit to their families of academic choice. Having the option to send my child back to school empowers me to make the best choice for my child’s continued growth, health and education. I have more resources to support my child and my family’s well-being.