Posts by Moody Baby:
80% of parents want hybrid learning for their kids—but it’s not an option for everyone
,06 Aug 2020 in Tips
The debate around back-to-school plans is often framed as an either-or scenario: Either we send our kids back to school or we don’t. But like nearly every part of parenting, it really is more complicated than that.
A growing number of parents are asking school divisions to give more consideration to hybrid or flexible learning options, to make more room for quarantine measures, families’ individual schedules and, of course, social distancing when kids are in classrooms. But experts say hybrid learning leaves some kids behind and may delay full school re-openings.
A new poll conducted by Ipsos for the Washington Post/Schar School found more than 80% of parents want school to be at least partly online this year. The poll follows an earlier survey by Care.com which found 84% of parents are worried or uncomfortable about kids going back to school and 74% are not satisfied with their local school re-entry plan. When asked what would make them more comfortable, the top answer was continuing some kind of virtual learning until a vaccine becomes available.
Right now no single solution is going to work for every district or every family. The CDC recognizes this and local decision-makers and school boards must as well.
The Washington Post poll found nearly half (44%) of parents want schools to offer a combination of in-person and online learning and 39% of parents want just virtual classes with no in-person component. But that does not work for the many families who rely on school as childcare during the workday. Not everyone has the financial ability to stay home with their children or participate in private tutoring and learning pods.
As the Washington Post reports, its survey “shows deep partisan, economic and racial divides on the question of safety, with Republicans, White parents and those with children in private schools far more likely to call in-person school safe. Conversely, clear majorities of Democrats, independents, Black and Hispanic parents, and those with children in public schools say it’s not safe to go back to campuses.”
Annette Anderson is a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Education, where she works with the university’s Center for Safe and Healthy Schools. In a recent interview with KCRW, Anderson explained how COVID-19 has revealed and exacerbated inequality between schools in the United States.
“There’s this model of every kid in the United States in September sitting in front of a laptop or desktop computer with broadband and high-speed internet and multiple devices,” Anderson says. “I don’t know that that is what we had this spring, and I don’t know that we have invested enough to be able to get to some model like that in the fall.”
Anderson continues: “There’s concern that schools are going to be trying to perform Herculean tasks with fewer resources. We just want to make sure that every kid in the country has an equitable shot, so that we don’t have any delays down the lane for all kids.”
Polls show parents want hybrid learning but not all will be able to do it. Some families have already been left behind by distance learning.
If you’re trying to balance work (especially if your job can’t be done from home), it can feel like there is no good choice. The Care.com poll found that while most parents are afraid of sending their kids back to class, and a majority think online learning is the best solution, just 17% of parents feel prepared for virtual learning and confident that their kids will get a proper education through it.
Meanwhile, Dr. William Hanage, an associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, says “the hybrid model is probably among the worst that we could be putting forward, if our goal is to stop the virus getting into schools.”
Hanage is particularly worried about the exposure younger kids have to various caregivers when they are not in school because if their parents work they will likely be with a babysitter or at day care, and at an increased risk for COVID-19 exposure out of school hours.
We have to balance concerns of epidemiologists like Hanage with those of education experts like Anderson and individual parents. Hybrid learning may be the best choice for some, but for families who can’t do it it’s no choice at all.
I needed help designing the perfect nursery—so here’s what I did
,06 Aug 2020 in Tips
As told to Deena Campbell
There’s a small room in my home that’s long, very rectangular and super awkward. I always knew this room would one day be my nursery, but I didn’t quite know how to bring it to life. I’m not good at interior design and I felt like I needed help creating a beautiful nursery.
After speaking with my husband, we decided to reach out to YouthfulNest to give us a helping hand. YouthfulNest is an online interior design service for nurseries and kid rooms.
Their tag, “life is stressful. Designing shouldn’t be” really resonated with me. At the time I was pregnant and didn’t have the time to think about décor. The idea of simply sharing my vision, reviewing the design and then shopping the items online was exactly what I needed.
I was so excited to give it a try.
For starters, we took many measurements of the room and submitted photos to give YouthfulNest an idea of the type of room we were dealing with. It wasn’t a standard room, and I wanted to make sure they designed it perfectly.
I jumped on a call with the designer to explain my style (and let’s be honest, my dreams) for the nursery. I didn’t know exactly how I wanted the room to look, but I knew I wanted navy colors and a mix of modern and traditional items I already owned. I told them my budget and answered any questions the designer had.
After the initial call, I crafted a Pinterest board to further explain my likes and dislikes. Shortly after submission, they sent me two rounds of a mockup with a list of products to purchase. That’s when the fun really began. I narrowed down the list and provided feedback on the items that were my style and pieces I could see in my home.
A few of the items they suggested were sold out, but they quickly provided other options. I was most impressed that they were able to stay under my budget, while providing additional price points in case something else caught my fancy.
I especially loved that she cut prices on things that didn’t matter—laundry baskets, storage bins, mobile—even the crib was inexpensive. The rug was a bit pricer, but that made a lot of sense since it’s a focal point of the nursery.
Once I narrowed down the items she designed the room and my vision came to life. YouthfulNest seamlessly mixed old and new pieces to create a beautiful room that I was so pleased with. They even transformed an old dresser into a changing table. It was so nice to have my awkward room turn into a perfect nursery for my little one.
Now that my daughter is a bit older and is slowly outgrowing her crib, I have thoughts about having YouthfulNest redesign the room. The room is still small, and my interior design skills haven’t changed much—it sounds like the perfect time for an upgrade.
Besides, the thought of having someone design a room without entering my home is especially appealing during a pandemic. And to me, having peace of mind and a beautifully designed room is priceless.
We need to close the bars and gyms, and focus on reopening schools the right way
,06 Aug 2020 in Tips
Extraordinarily difficult decisions are being made right now across the country, as school administrators, public health officials and local governments attempt to answer the question of how—or whether—to send kids and teachers back to school this fall.
The biggest voices have picked up their megaphones to amplify the debate, with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and the White House all coming out in support of reopening schools. Other organizations, such as the National Federation of Teachers, have urged a gradual, cautious approach.
In almost every conversation about reopening schools, however, the focus has been on what schools need to do: Temperature screens, frequent testing, student cohorts, in-school health clinics, planning for outbreaks, spacing out desks, serving lunch in classrooms, staggering arrivals, alternating schedules, requiring masks, washing hands.
Recently the New England Journal of Medicine published its own paper on reopening schools, voicing its support for reopening elementary schools but shifting the focus away from a laundry list of to-dos and must-haves for beleaguered school administrators, underfunded school districts and overtaxed teachers.
Instead, the health and education experts who wrote the opinion focused on what should be painfully obvious to all of us by now:
Reopening schools safely isn’t about what schools need to be doing. It’s about what our country needs to be doing. And we’re not doing it.
The sad truth is, no amount of safety preparations, hand-washing or social distancing is going to make schools safe to open when coronavirus transmission is unchecked in the community that school serves. In communities where the virus is not under control, the minute schools open their doors, the virus will walk in along with the kids, as has already been demonstrated.
As the NEJM article explains, “It would be best—and evidence from many countries demonstrates that it’s possible—to lower community transmission rates by means of stringent control measures this summer so that schools can reopen this fall with an acceptable level of safety.”
Epidemiologists have been urging all summer that communities work to get their transmission ratio down to 10 (or fewer) new daily cases per 100,000 people before reopening schools—although with the virus out of control in many states, some infectious disease experts have suggested that the case ratio could be as high as 25 in 100,000 before shut-down measures need to be put into place.
Under conditions of controlled community spread, however, schools could reopen with more confidence, as long as they were also supported and funded appropriately. “We believe that primary schools should be recognized as essential services—and school personnel as essential workers—and that school reopening plans should be developed and financed accordingly,” the NEJM article notes.
Controlling community spread of the virus is an achievable goal, as has been observed in other countries where schools have managed to reopen without seeing an accompanying spike in transmission—but, as the authors note, that requires both national leadership and responsible local prioritization:
“The path to low transmission in other countries has included adherence to stringent community control measures—including closure of nonessential indoor work and recreational spaces. Such measures along with universal mask wearing must be implemented now in the United States if we are to bring case numbers down to safe levels for elementary schools to reopen this fall nationwide.”
This perspective echoes that of many public health experts. “This should be a national priority,” Anita Cicero, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told Pro Publica. “It’s measurably more important than reopening bars and restaurants.”
And therein, apparently, lies the real problem. We have chosen, as a country, to prioritize non-essential services and activities like bowling alleys and restaurants over schools.
The authors of the NEJM paper, Dr. Meira Levinson of the Harvard School of Education and epidemiology experts Dr. Müge Çevik and Dr. Marc Lipsitch, addressed the risks and benefits of children and teachers returning to schools based on a review of all the available clinical and field evidence about children and coronavirus infection. The paper also reviews in depth the main reasons why in-person school is such a high priority—reasons that are familiar by now to most parents who have been following the issue, including “essential educational, social, and developmental benefits; neither the economy nor the health care system will be able to return to full strength given parents’ caretaking responsibilities; and profound racial and socioeconomic injustices will be further exacerbated.”
As their risk-benefit analysis makes clear, however, the risks of reopening schools can only be lowered to an acceptable level by controlling the virus transmission rate in the communities that schools serve—getting to that crucial 10 in 100,000 people ratio, or below it.
“The fundamental argument that children, families, educators, and society deserve to have safe and reliable primary schools should not be controversial,” the authors write. “If we all agree on that principle, then it is inexcusable to open nonessential services for adults this summer if it forces students to remain at home even part-time this fall.”
So how do we make schools safe to reopen? We choose to, by making decisions that prioritize controlling the spread of the virus.
We choose to open schools for kids by choosing to wear masks.
We choose to open schools for kids by choosing not to open non-essential services for adults.
We choose to open schools for kids by choosing to fund schools so that they can afford the services, tools and staff they desperately need in order to follow public health recommendations.
We choose to open schools for kids by making responsible decisions—the kinds of “adult” decisions our kids are relying on all of us to make.
“Our sense of responsibility toward children—at the very least, to protect them from the vicissitudes of life, including the poor decision making of adults who allow deadly infections to spiral out of control—is core to our humanity,” the authors write. We can be the grownups our kids need us to be.
Close the bars. Close the bowling alleys. Close the gyms, the indoor restaurants, the indoor movie theaters.
That way, we can really show that we prioritized reopening schools.