By Audrey Conklin, features Carrie Lukas, president of the Independent Women’s Forum

Thousands of schools closed during the week of Jan. 2 after the holiday break, amid a surge of COVID-19 cases and harsh winter weather conditions.

More than 5,200 schools closed across the U.S. the first week of the year, some of which will remain closed until Jan. 16, according to community events website Burbio, which has been tracking school closures in about 5,000 school districts during the pandemic.

“During the school closures last year, I had five kids, including a kindergartner, logging online and supposed to sit there and stare at a computer for six hours a day while I’m a full-time worker,” Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) President Carrie Lukas, who lives in Virginia, told Fox News Digital. “Not that I couldn’t continue my job, but speaking from personal experience, it was totally demoralizing. No matter how hard you try to support your kids, there was a feeling that you could never do enough.”

Over the course of a year, Lukas — like so many other parents — acted as a full-time employee, mother and, in some ways, a teacher, as she tried to keep up with what her kids were learning in their local public schools while they were remote. She wanted to make sure their skills continued to improve while they were learning from home.

For parents who don’t work from home, “the uncertainty of what they’re going to be doing in a couple of weeks — it’s just an incredible stress,” Lukas said. “You can’t make plans, and it’s very hard on working parents and, in particular, working moms.”

IWF has launched an online school choice campaign allowing parents and teachers to share their remote-learning stories and read about the experiences of others. Many of the comments say parents should have the right to decide how their taxpayer dollars are spent on education.

“We’re at a moment when I think there’s been a lot of very [clarity] over the last two years,” Lukas said, adding that the public is more interested in “what entities are putting kids’ interests first.”

“Research shows that for girls — particularly pre-teens and teenagers — having a social circle and positive relationships with friends is so important to mental health,” Lukas said. “… When you rob especially young girls of those positive friendships and put them online, that’s going to be really hard on them. A lot of kids’ … relationships became online relationships.”

Lukas was making an effort to get her children to spend less time online and more time outside with friends before the pandemic, which put those plans on hold when it forced kids to spend all day on their computers and athletic programs were canceled or paused.

“The unions should recognize that the parents, especially parents of poor kids and poor and disadvantaged communities … should have the option of using these [school] resources instead of” having those resources put toward “a totally dysfunctional and indifferent bureaucracy, which is most of our public school systems,” Lukas said.

To read the full article, click here.