Concern Over Returning to School during COVID

A mother of triplets voices concern to her triplets' school districts over returning to school during the COVID pandemic.

Dear School District #1

My name is Marcella Hines, and my triplets attend kindergarten at AAA. Our family is new to the district; we moved to AAA in May after 12 years in BBB. Although we liked the AAA area, we were hesitant to move into it due to the school district. We lived in the part of BBB supported by CCC Unified School District and had been very pleased with our pre-K experience in it. We knew very little of AAA, and while it looked like a good district on paper, we didn’t see much involvement from it in important local matters regarding students or teachers. But we decided to take a chance and enrolled our kids in the district following our move.

With recent events, we’re seriously reconsidering our decision. The unfavorable media coverage, supported by perspectives from AAA parents and the AAA Education Association is alarming, and the lackluster response from the district is discouraging. We’re disheartened by the conflicting information, and, being new to the district, we don’t know whom to consider as a reliable, authoritative source. However, our little experience with the district is inspiring little confidence in it, and we’re finding it difficult to envision trusting our children to its care.

Our triplets were born at 28 weeks, weighing less than 3 pounds each. Their first home was the NICU, where they spent the first 8 weeks of their lives as their bodies continued to develop. In fact, their incomplete development will follow them for their rest of their lives: among the many long-term health issues premature babies like our triplets can experience is a compromised immune system, making them more susceptible to infections than babies born at full term. Infections like viruses — like COVID-19. Four of our triplets’ eight weeks in the NICU were spent hooked up to a ventilator and then a CPAP machine, and finally oxygen support. That is an experience, an image, that stays with you forever. It is one that you do not wish to reenact—and one you would not wish upon anyone, least of all the men and women who tirelessly serve our community schools.

We want to support the community of AAA by sending our kids to a district school where they can grow up in the community with their neighbors. But we don’t want to support a district that seems to place no stock in the science behind the virus, preventative measures against contracting the virus, or the benchmarks distributed by the state. We don’t want to be part of a district that doesn’t seem to have its students’ and teachers’ best interests at heart. We understand that the district cannot provide 100% immunity against COVID-19, but it can work to provide more-than-sufficient measures to protect anyone who steps foot on a school campus, it can be transparent about outbreaks, and it can be agile in its approach to student and staff safety. If it can’t—or won’t—then our family will go elsewhere for its educational and community needs.

Three infants in NICU.
The Tagalongs in NICU. Top to bottom: James, Caleb, and Danae.

Dear School District #2

My family moved to AAA from BBB in May, and my triplets began the school year attending a school in AAA—our home district. However, we pulled them from the district following conflicting perspectives from AAA parents, teachers, and staff; the AAA Education Association; the media; and the district itself. We didn’t know whom to consider as a reliable, authoritative source, but our little experience with the district had inspired little confidence in it, and we found it difficult to envision trusting our children to its care.

Our triplets were born at 28 weeks, weighing less than 3 pounds each. Their first home was the NICU, where they spent the first 8 weeks of their lives as their bodies continued to develop. In fact, their incomplete development will follow them for their rest of their lives: among the many long-term health issues premature babies like our triplets can experience is a compromised immune system, making them more susceptible to infections than babies born at full term. Infections like viruses—like COVID-19. Four of our triplets’ eight weeks in the NICU were spent hooked up to a ventilator and then a CPAP machine, and finally oxygen support. That is an experience, an image, that stays with you forever. It is one that you do not wish to reenact—and one you would not wish upon anyone, least of all the men and women who tirelessly serve our community schools.

We returned to CCC because we’d had a great experience last year with our triplets in its pre-K program. We returned because we were confident that the district has its students’ and teachers’ best interests at heart. Do not allow pressure from parents, outside sources, or districts / schools that are returning to sway you from holding true to that course—specifically, to not return to in-person learning until at least second quarter. Our community’s number of COVID cases is in the minimal to moderate range, but only just barely. Give us time to secure and stabilize our position there. Give our schools time to secure the necessary cleaning supplies and establish the protocols that will keep our kids, teachers, and staff healthy to the best of their ability. Give our teachers time to adequately prepare for a very different in-person learning environment. Give our students, teachers, and families a natural transition period that will cause minimal disruption. Give us time to better prepare for a new normal that will have its own set of consequences.

Thank you for consideration. I appreciate and respect that your decision tonight is difficult and has not come lightly.

About Marcella Hines

Marcella Hines

Marcella wants to live in a world where she can escape to quiet rooms stacked high with books that come bundled with a brownie cookie dough DQ blizzard and cuddly purr monster. When she’s not finding creative ways to play with cars for the eleventy billionth time or shouting, “Undies! Pants! Sit! Pee!” at toddlers who have the attention span of a gnat, you can find her running to the beats of an audiobook/podcast or assisting writers in crafting their work through her editing business, A to Z Editing. Marcella likes talking about the day-to-day experience of raising triplets, like how to navigate toddler time and a park playdate with three toddlers in tow. Follow her running, English weenie-ing, and ice creaming on Instagram: @hineschica.

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