Schools and COVID

Local Parents Reflect on Tough Decisions Made About Kids' Schooling Throughout Pandemic

It’s been a balancing act for families everywhere

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All of us have seen our lives change dramatically over the past 12 months. 
Many parents with school-age kids have had to make tough decisions about their children’s education.

Early in the pandemic, South Florida student Luca Escobar went from attending a private school to the public Sawgrass Elementary School in Sunrise.

"We just really got blown away by the teacher that we got assigned for his kindergarten class," Lucas's father John Moreno Escobar said. "Ms. Castillo has done an incredible job with Luca, and so we are extremely happy with that transition."

Another local, Marie Harrison, had two kids in public school at Beachside Montessori K-8 in Hollywood: a son in 5th grade and a daughter going into 8th.

Throughout the summer, she decided to leave her son at Beachside, but moved her daughter over to a private school.

"I made the decision to move her as she was proceeding into 8th grade. I didn’t think it would be a deep enough or broad enough education to be online for another year if that came to pass,” Harrison explained. 

She said at the time, she did not trust the Broward County Public Schools district to provide a quality educational experience during the pandemic, but she had faith in her son’s teacher.

“I have been thrilled with Ms. Maycumber at Beachside, she’s been outstanding, although I know that’s not the case for everyone, it has been the case for us,” Harrison said.

It’s been a balancing act for families everywhere.

“My son in particular has excelled in online learning, and he’s doing really, well but I do know other parents and other kids are not in the same bucket,” Escobar said. 

For some parents, academic progress was not even the biggest factor to consider, after seeing their children go through depression caused by social isolation.

“I would say that weighed at least 80% into my decision," Harrison said. "As valuable as education is to me, and it is incredibly important to me, I could not watch her fall into any more depression from being separated from humans."

She intends on keeping her daughter in private school next year.

Harrison and Escobar are both hoping next semester will be closer to normal life.

Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie has said the district is planning for a full reopening for the 2021-22 academic year, assuming the majority of the population is vaccinated by then. 

“I hear that they’re planning to try to have a normal reopening where everybody comes to school but candidly, until I see it, I won’t believe it,” Harrison said.

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