Back to School In the Burbs – 2020 Edition

The air has been getting crisper, pumpkins are outside the grocery stores, and Target has been offering notebooks for just fifty cents each. We all know that means: back to school! But COVID-19 has turned that phrase into more of a state of mind than an actual location.

Now that the question What to Do About School? has been raised, each town has its own idea of what constitutes a safe startup. No matter your district, odds are your child’s school is going to open in one of three ways:


In Person

You may hear the word “cohort” or “pod” thrown out a lot. A cohort is a group of students and teachers that stay together throughout an entire school day during in-person classroom instruction, with minimal or no interaction between cohorts.


Virtual / At-Home Only

Students and teachers engage in virtual-only classes, activities, and events. This can be any mix of live instruction or prerecorded sessions, and scheduled class screen time tends to increase by grade level.



A mix of virtual learning and in-class learning, using the methods described above.


We as parents struggle, because we want to keep our families healthy, but we also crave the typical pre-pandemic school routine. We don’t want our kids to fall behind in education or socialization, but we don’t want them to get sick, either. For the parents who know they aren’t going to risk illness, almost all schools have an elective virtual option. For those of us who will be sending our kids to school some or all of the week, we will have to embrace the new normal of morning temperature checks, assigned seating, eating lunch in the classroom, and cancelled field trips, sports, events, and extracurriculars.

Luckily, with so many parents working from home, getting your kids settled into their new routine should be a lot easier in the burbs than in the city. There are no subway rides or busy streets to worry about, just a distanced bus ride, short walk, or the privacy of your own car. There’s also plenty of space to set up that virtual learning zone to keep kids focused during the day.
Lots of families are turning their dining room into a multi-functional family work zone. If everyone dons headsets, it’s almost like being at a WeWork. And who wouldn’t love to eat lunch outdoors in the backyard and take in the changing Fall leaves? Don’t want to take calls at the table? Many of us have the privilege of using an office, basement, or spare bedroom to set up a remote classroom.

If your kids are attending school in a cohort, parents can enjoy the smaller class sizes, emptier dropoff lines, and fewer complications. (It’s hard to lose your lunch or your jacket when you’re in the same classroom all day!)

Until schools are able to return to business as usual, we’re doing our best to roll with the…uh…coughs, and keep our outlook positive so our kids will be assured that we can get through this. It all might look a little different right now, but we still have our own little four-walled oases we call home (and also call work, and also call school).


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