CADILLAC — Schools are getting ready to open amid COVID-19 and now parents are left with the decision on how to best educate their students.
With many local schools offering in-person and online options for students during the 2020-2021 school year set to start in the upcoming weeks, parents are taking into account what is best for their family.
For Reed City High School parent Lyndsey Eccles-Burchett, she has her concerns about face-to-face learning and has opted to utilize an online option for her son, Ayden Eccles.
"We all have health issues that put us at a high-risk for this thing," she said. "I have MS, Dan is diabetic and Ayden has asthma. If Ayden were to bring that home or catch it, we could be in some big trouble."
Another cause for concern for Eccles-Burchett is Reed City Schools not checking temperatures before students enter a building and are instead asking parents to monitor students.
"Frankly, I don't trust the other parents," she said. "I don't have faith that parents, who already send their kids to school sick, will do that. And I don't want to put my family's health in the hands of everyone else."
Eccles-Burchett said she also believes the school will inevitably have to close again or quarantine and starting with online will make Ayden's freshman year a lot easier.
"Rather than having to go back and forth between online and in-person school, it will just be easier to do online, at least to start," she said.
While he is bummed to start his freshman year off online, Eccles-Burchett said Ayden is also excited at all the opportunities online classes will bring him.
"We are doing online through a different service than the school and the amount of things he has access to is really nice," Eccles-Burchett said. "For example, at the high school, they just offer Spanish as a foreign language but online he can take German, French or a number of other languages. Ayden is excited that there are more options for him and more that will interest him."
Though Eccles-Burchett said she is doing what is best for her family, she understands that online is not for everyone and face-to-face may be the better option.
"Everyone's needs are different," she said. "Ayden is a pretty self-motivated kid, so online will be just fine. But I can see where that may not be the case across the board and a kid may need to be in the classroom. (...) You also have the issue of accessibility up here that may make a parent send their kid to school."
And for Northern Michigan Christian and McBain Agricultural School District parent Nicci LaChonce, it came down to a matter of accessibility when deciding whether or not to send her daughters, 5-year-old Breslynn and 3-year-old Oaklynn, back to school.
"We don't have internet or a computer. We haven't needed it up until now. We use my phone as a hot spot if we need to," she said. "For us, sending them to school is the best option."
LaChonce added that she tried to switch to online learning with Breslynn but only having a phone to work on became more of a frustration as time went on.
"We tried to do NMC's online program at the end of last year for my oldest, who was in preschool at the time, but she was getting more frustrated every time she sat down with my phone to try to write her name or any other activity," LaChonce said. "(...) We ended up having to go pick up paper packets for her to work on instead."
When it comes to worrying about the girls bringing anything home, LaChonce said she isn't nervous.
"They will be wearing masks and the schools will be having them wear them in all the common areas," she said. "I work in a doctor's office and have to bring them with me every now and again. So, if they were going to catch something or bring something home, I would think they would have by now."
As for the girls having to wear masks, LaChonce said that is not an issue for her girls.
"They are completely comfortable with wear the masks, too," she said. "My mother-in-law made them all different masks to match their dresses. They look at it as an added accessory more than anything."