Schools

This is how school is going, according to parents

"I pulled my kids from public school this year."

Students at Blue Hills Regional Technical School walk in the halls in mid-September.

The new school year is underway, and many children in schools across Massachusetts are learning in ways they have never learned before after their districts chose a fully remote or hybrid model — a combination of in-person instruction and remote learning — due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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We asked Boston.com readers how school is going so far and received answers from parents that ranged from “Things are going better than I had hoped,” to “Not great but I don’t blame the schools,” to “Remote was poor, we chose to homeschool.”

Ahead, discover how parents are feeling about school so far.

It’s going ‘surprisingly well’

“It’s going great, they’re enjoying it,” wrote a parent from Arlington with three kids learning fully remote. “Structure and content is so much better than what they offered in the spring.”

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“Good,” wrote a reader about how school is going. “I wish the state was doing remote only learning for this winter. It is only a matter of time before cases explode in [schools] this winter.”

“My daughter is 9 and her mental health, well-being and happiness has improved five fold since being back in school full time,” wrote a parent. “My son is 18 and in [school for] 4 half days and his mental health and overall appearance has improved in a way I could only dream.”

“Going very well,” wrote a reader.

“School has been going surprisingly well for my daughter,” wrote Dan Armstrong, parent of a 12-year-old child in the hybrid program at South Shore Charter Public School in Norwell. “My daughter goes to school one week and then studies from home the next week. This greatly reduces the number of kids in the school at any one time. She seems to be more happy with going to school even if just every other week than she was when learning was 100% from home. Her mood is better and she is more ‘into’ school this year versus last year’s 100% study-from-home experience. The school is handling it well, with an administrator coming out to the car to do a wellness check each morning. Things are going better than I had hoped.”

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“My 2nd grader has been doing hybrid (two days in, two at home with daily lessons on a laptop and a ‘half day’ which is a 30 minute Zoom class, his only one all week),” wrote Stephanie Davis. “So far it’s going very well for us, we opted to drive instead of the school bus and have kept my pre schooler home. I’m very fortunate to have been able to open my week and work part time on the weekends, my husband works from home. We are not vulnerable or healthcare workers.”

“Our school is full time, in person, live,” wrote Kathyr Ranger about St. Peter School in Cambridge. “We are doing amazing and it is so great to be back in person. We offer weekly COVID-19 testing for students and faculty.”

It’s ‘not going well’

“I pulled my kids from public school this year,” wrote Jenna Howard from Woburn. “They are going to Catholic school and have [been] back in school for 2.5 weeks, full time. If private schools can make it work, public schools should have been able to as well. The new school has been wonderful and my kids are actually learning and being tested. A stark comparison from WPS so far.”

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“First week, absolutely no communication from teachers about how my child is doing,” wrote Joe Ramos. “Not an email, phone call, or chat. Everybody is too focused on drop-off/pickup or keeping the kids separate. Likely going to pull her out if communication doesn’t improve.”

“Too much time in front of the screen,” wrote one reader.

“Our district is in a very green area, encompassing Bolton, Stow and Lancaster,” wrote Tracy Lindsay from Bolton. “Although the K-8 grades are hybrid, the high school is fully remote.  Yet almost all area high schools surrounding us are hybrid with reasonable success so far. My daughter is a junior and cannot participate in her AP Chemistry lab, cannot easily ask questions or let teachers know she is struggling. Half of the class is spent taking attendance, dealing with one or more of the 24 students having computer or connectivity issues, and overall creating headaches from too much screen time.”

“Not great, but I don’t blame the schools,” wrote a reader. “I have a second grader, and second graders simply aren’t sophisticated enough to manage switching being on multiple online platforms and completing work in docs/slides/etc. Things work okay when they do paper/pencil work, but anything requiring digital competency is a disaster. Kids need to be back in schools. We need to rip the band-aid off and just get them back.”

“The hybrid model we selected is not going well,” wrote Mark from Milton. “The school system implemented a one size fits all approach to hybrid learning, essentially presuming young K-2 learners can learn online no different than a high school kid. Not prioritizing young learners to be in school full time has done a huge disservice to our K-2 population disproportionately than to older children. The kids appear demoralized as they struggle to comprehend the chaos of Google meetings.”

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“Not as well as one would hope,” wrote Tom about learning at Austin Preparatory School in Reading, which began the year with a hybrid model until Oct. 2. “Math is being taught primarily via video recording because it is hard to share a board while remote. Math is a critical component to education, this should have been the first challenge to solve, not the first one to push down the road. Communications are verbose and flowery, so getting the important information out is a challenge for parents.”

“Remote was poor, we chose to homeschool starting this week,” wrote a reader.

“We are fully remote with a 13 and 10 year old,” wrote Joseph Krol of Weymouth. “It’s sub-optimal. With the weather still very nice during the days I am confused why these kids are not at school at least a few days a week. The schools can have outside classrooms or other creative learning areas to maintain spacing and still have in person experiences.”

“My children attend the Curley School which is a Boston Public School,” wrote one parent. “They are in Kindergarten and 1st grade and fully remote. Despite everyone’s best intentions it’s been a real challenge so far. My four year old can hardly stay focused and my six year old this morning said, ‘I don’t want to stay in front of the screen all day again today!’ These are challenging times and all students are going through this but it’s going to be a long tough year ahead if we can’t get some in-person education restarted.”

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“My children are doing hybrid in kindergarten and 3rd grade,” wrote Maria from Westborough. “I think that the teachers/district are doing an incredible job given the circumstances. My 8 year old daughter is an independent learner and fairly self-sufficient. My 5 year old son struggles with the online learning since developmentally it’s challenging for him. I really wish that there were more in-person learning options for the kindergarten and first grade students since they need more hands-on help.”

“I have two sons in the Belmont Public Schools — one in middle school and one in high school,” wrote Danielle Lemack of Belmont. “I feel strongly that families should have the right to choose to send our children back to in-person school. To be clear, I do not think in-person school should be required for families that want to stay remote. For months, parents have been asking the BPS superintendent and school committee to allow for an in-person return to school. Why — because remote school is not conducive for much of the learning that needs to occur. School is not just about academics — it is about allowing our children to learn how to navigate social interactions with adults (who are not family members) as well as peers. School helps our children develop their self-identity and learn how to be students. School is the place where children learn appropriate social and behavioral skills. School is our children’s world.  They cannot get any of this in a remote environment.”

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and grammar.

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