My pandemic learning experience may be different than others who share their stories here. But my story is an example of what I believe states should have done from the beginning with regard to public schools. I live in Seminole County, Florida and our leaders, both statewide and within the county, put children first and started in-person learning back in August. At the time, parents were given a choice between on-line learning and face to face. Our family chose face to face and haven’t looked back since. The governor, education commissioner and our superintendent all worked together to provide the best, common-sense solutions to keep our kids in school. Our district was the first in Florida to submit a plan for the 2020-2021 school year and I believe they did it right. Many teachers complained but most were ready to go back to the classroom. Our leaders listened to all sides of the issue but did not let the loudest voices drown out the facts. As a result, our kids have had in-person learning the entire school year. Many parents who initially chose on-line learning sent their kids back to the classroom after the first quarter. Many more came back at the beginning of this year.

If you want to look at an example of what should be done moving forward in states that are still not allowing schools to open, I recommend taking a look at our district. As a former teacher and mom of three kids, I believe strongly that school provides not only for the education of our kids, but also the socialization and activities that lead to their physical and mental well-being. My 13 year old son has a controversial opinion that he doesn’t like school breaks. We laugh about it but in truth, he loves school. He loves the structure, learning, being with friends, and having opportunities to participate in activities. It breaks my heart to hear of children in other states who have not had the opportunity to go back to school. I can only hope that the leaders in these states stop playing with people’s lives and start putting children first like our leaders have already done in Florida.