What Moms Think About the 2020-2021 School Year


Before the last day of the 2019 – 2020 school year, moms started talking about, thinking about, and wondering about the 2020 – 2021 term. I am one of those moms.

For the sake of setting the stage, I have two daughters in school. The eldest is in third grade at a public elementary school; the youngest attended pre-K three days each week.

It goes without saying, but I suppose I must mention the major disruption coronavirus caused to everything — schooling included. I often joke that we are STILL on the eternal spring break. We left the Friday before spring break and haven’t been back to school.

When it became apparent school was not resuming as-is, crisis schooling commenced. For us, it looked like three 30-minute video meetings per week for my youngest and daily work for my third grader. Translation: On average she has two or three assignments (worksheets or videos) per subject per day, plus 45-minute video meetings three days each week. Did I mention that I shifted from working 30 hours per week to squeezing in 10-15 during rest times and evenings? And did I mention that my husband is about as essential as you can get during a pandemic? I am mothering two wonderful children, crisis schooling, running a business, encouraging my husband, and shouldering the management of our household 90% of the time alone.

I quickly came to the conclusion this couldn’t continue long term.

Don’t get me wrong, I am THANKFUL for the organizing of school work and EFFORTS both schools made to make lemonade out of the sourest batch of lemons. I just know — that for the long term — this will not work for our family. And I knew I couldn’t be alone.

I asked several women from different ages and stages and parts of Tarrant County to share what’s rolling through their minds. Some think like me and some don’t. I’m delighted to introduce them to you.


Three of Amanda’s sons attend school — public middle school, public elementary school, and private preschool. The older two participated in 100% e-learning in various formats. They are assigned a week’s worth of assignments at the start of the week. When we talked about her experiences, Amanda said:

“I don’t like that once they finish their work that is it for the week. They are sometimes all done by Wednesday or Thursday, so we try to supplement to help. They are also not getting anything for their fine arts at this time. 

“I am worried the schools will open too quickly and the kids and teachers will all begin getting sick. I am concerned about sports. I do hope that we will be able to have a baseball season but also hope there are some guidelines in place to help protect everyone. I worry that my kids won’t be challenged enough with just the e-learning they have been doing thus far. 
“We were planning on sending our three year old to a private school in the fall for pre-K (4), but with so many uncertainties, we have decided to homeschool him next year and save the money. Our one year old would have been starting the two’s class, but the same thing is true: We will be keeping him home to save money. For our older two who will both be in middle school in the fall, we are waiting to see what happens in our district. If the district is 100% on campus, we may pull them to do homeschool if COVID-19 is still growing daily with no cure/vaccine. If it is blended/hybrid with social distancing and sanitizing in place, then we will be good with that for the kids.
“I want more information on what standards will be in place when school begins. How will social distancing work? Bathrooms, how will these be kept clean? Game plan on lesson plans, extra curricula, the fine arts? Some input from teachers, what do they think? Overall I need more information.”

school momCatherine

Catherine’s schooling situation is mixed. She has two daughters who attend WISD, one in eight grade and the other in third. She also homeschools her son. When chatting about how the coronavirus school break impacted her family, this is what she told me:

“Our schooling situation is a little chaotic and varies from day to day. We had a schedule when we first began, but then, as the days began to blur together, all I worried about was them completing the assignments they were given. 

“My oldest is not responding well; she misses her friends. This is her last year in middle school, so I know many of her friends will be moving schools. Even with her schedule, it is easy for her to be off-topic frequently. My youngest thrives on continuity, but right now she is not doing so well. She, too, finds it hard to stay on topic and complete her schoolwork despite having a schedule.

teenagers walking on the street“I have many fears and hopes at the same time. I worry for their safety health-wise, but my hope is that this is teaching them to be resilient. That we may have fallen from this disease, but we came back strong and learned who the real superheroes were. That essential workers were the ones who helped us survived, and it may be a new outlook for a career path.

“I am considering changes for my children’s schooling this fall. I have many concerns about their health and the return to school: If the school will be cleaned enough each time to ensure healthy children and what would I be exposing them to if they return too soon.”


Dominique has a son in second grade and a five year old attending Museum School at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. They, too, did digital work and projects assigned by teacher, but overall Dominique found the work easy for the boys and ended up supplementing with other activities. Here is how she explained their lives during all of this:

“I do the schooling and take care of the cooking, cleaning as before. My husband had the opportunity and flexibility to work from home but is back in the office. There are furlough periods to help conserve and save jobs. He has been going to the grocery store and errands as needed. I’m in charge of the kids, which was how it was before, but with his time off he has more interaction, which has been nice. Taekwondo has been on Zoom, so both boys have been participating even more than usual, both four times a week and every other week private lessons on Fridays. We also do live story times, other live chats on topics of interest, and two school Zooms a week. Overall, my running around and us going to various places has halted. We usually aren’t home this much, but I think we’ve all enjoyed the slowing down, though we miss places like the zoo, playgrounds, and museums with friends. We stay in touch with friends on Facebook, texts, and occasional Zoom meetings. 

“I like that this time has provided us with time to work on more life skills, like doing laundry, cooking, and learning to type and use a computer. I like that we had to learn new things and new ways of accomplishing things. I dislike, but understand, that only a bare minimum of what they would be learning is provided. I dislike that we couldn’t get the learning materials they used in the classroom to help supplement.

“My concern is how both, especially my oldest, will transition back into the school environment. I’m not concerned at what level they will be or of any slump.”

Should kids return to school during coronavirus pandemicEmily

Emily has three boys in elementary school at a small, low-income PK-8 parochial school. Her perspective is interesting because she is also a teacher. When I asked for her thoughts, she said:

“As a middle school teacher, I teach on Zoom six hours a week and am responsible for creating, presenting, and grading assignments to help students continue their learning, as well as being available to them throughout the day (and evening and weekend) when they have questions or need help. I also work part time (approximately 15 hours/week) for Stitch Fix. I manage the dinners, children, schoolwork, piano lessons, guitar lessons etc. My husband is working from home full time, which typically means he is on calls for the majority of a workday and does some work in the evenings after children go to bed as well. He is not able to be out and about much or help with the kids.

“I like that my kids have more freedom to learn and explore on their own, which is amazing. They are also learning to be more independent instead of having a teacher there to answer all their questions 24/7. They read more now than they ever had the time to at school, they have honed their kitchen and building skills, and their hand-eye coordination and gross motor abilities have increased leaps and bounds. I dislike that my kids do not have their own devices, and we struggle to find the technology for online assignments. I hate screens anyway and don’t like how my ADHD child responds after even educational screen time. I also know they aren’t learning as much as they would be in some situations at school, they miss their friends, and while my own kids don’t have this issue, many of my students have parents who don’t speak English and can’t even answer simple questions, making this situation hard.
“I am truly not thinking about what school will be like in the fall. I know it will look different. In general, I am trying not to trouble trouble until trouble troubles me.”


Heather has one daughter in public high school and two sons who’ve graduated. Her situation looks like having one grown son home because of COVID and her high school sophomore managing most all of her school work. However, Heather made a point of explaining how stressful it’s been for her daughter to handle AP classes and trying to make the top 10% of her class. The pass/fail transition will impact GPAs and maybe future college admissions; if anything, it will shake things up. Her story goes like this:

“My daughter STRUGGLED the first two weeks, as rhythms are so incredibly important for her mental health. Also, she was accepted into the Columbia University pre-college program for one week of cellular and molecular biology in August. Now, it’s online. These losses are hard on her — and the social and basketball losses.

“Once she realized that she could learn at her own pace and settled into Zoom and Marco Polo app for friends, it’s been okay. She is concerned about how all this plays out for the next pivot year of junior year leading into college. Some days are better than others and she processes internally, very hesitant to show any ‘chinks in her armor.’ 
“Chris and I try to raise our kids so that they can do hard things and make the best of things. We are trying to model this. Some days we are ‘winning at quarantine’ (each of us). Other days, we lean into the binge watching, puzzles, reading, doing little. We’ve also let everyone know they can social distance in their rooms when they need alone time.
school violence“I desperately hope for some sort of in person classes, even modified. 
“Junior year is THE year of college visits and making the grades toward college applications. I want for my daughter to have this year with even some moderation of a regular school year. 
“I am not concerned about her academics — we actually have to parent her to relax a bit with it all. But, I am concerned for her overall well-being and the social outlet, the team she’s missing, and the connection with her teachers. High school teachers are NOT so much on connecting in any way with their students — other than AP classes. And I HOPE that taking her SATs and ACTs don’t become an issue.”


She has two daughters — both in public elementary school. She shared this:

“We made this choice because our neighborhood kids also attend this school and it’s the closest in proximity to our home. With our oldest, she had always thrived at the school and never had a reason to seek anything alternative.

“However, our youngest has always displayed a differing learning style. We questioned public school for her earlier on, but due to the high expense of private school — and the fact our daughter’s needs still wouldn’t be fully met — we decided public school realistically had better resources for her. In February, right before COVID, we realized we may have to consider alternative schooling before third grade, but I wasn’t sure I had the strength to to do it on my own.
“We are being led through clear teacher-instruction virtually. Our children are not being taught lessons live; instead they are through videos in which families can watch at the time of their choice and do ‘school’ around dual working parents’ schedules. I’ve been extremely pleased with how the district has handled it. There are enrichment activities for those who need more and at the beginning, when our third grader had way too much math, this scales it back easily.
“With this said, I do not believe they are learning any new content. It’s more reinforcing what they knew. That’s a bummer, but what can one expect? These teachers are also having to teach their own kids and manage it all. It’s a tremendous load on them.
“Their workload is about three hours a day, working on their own. I am neutral to this. It’s a lot — but I expect a lot for their education. BrainPop, however, is no substitute for a teacher.
“What I do like is the freedom of more creative play, more time with the kids, more opportunity for life lessons, social responsibility, etc.
Sweet Girls“I actually love having them home more, and the general slowdown of life, BUT, I need them at school. It’s been great to pause and reflect on what we’d like post-COVID life to look like. Now we are ready to start post-COVID life.
“For my children, I fear having to send my daughter where I know she isn’t succeeding because I can’t afford alternative options. I am worried about my oldest becoming depressed due to isolation.
“My hopes are that this opens up the dialogue for more alternatives to schooling.
“It would be great to see the public schools spend the summer developing curriculum for a possible shutdown situation OR for students who have discovered their learning style is accommodated through at home learning without the $20k price tag.
“I would love to do a semi virtual, semi in-person learning environment for my youngest. A blend of traditional and ‘COVID’ education.”

Should moms send their children to school for the 2020-2021 yearRachel

Rachel has three kids all in some sort of school — first grade, pre-K, and preschool — and is a mix of public and private. This is what she told me:

“I am overseeing distance learning for a first grader, am trying to figure out learning-through-play with our three year old, and am patchwork teaching our five year old some blend of pre-K, kinder, and first grade work. I am also trying to work part time, grocery shop, keep our house in some kind of order, cooking all the meals (except for eight) since this began, trying to make sure everyone does their online dance classes, trying to find motivation to workout, and trying to maintain relationships with family and friends over the phone and Internet (which is the hardest part for me, because face-to-face conversations are my jam).

“My biggest dislike about the current situation is the sudden, massive increase in technology use. I think for the ages of my children, technology is not the best approach for learning. And, the lack of hands-on experiences are frustrating the kids. Basically, it’s okay for school maintenance, but would 100% not work for the long term.

“My hope is that kids can safely return to the classroom most of the time. I also hope that, if we do stay home, our incoming kindergartener will continue to thrive. I hope I feel more equipped to tackle whatever situation is thrown at us in the fall and next spring.

“I worry decisions are being made too hastily, but also not fast enough. It has to be so incredibly difficult to be a leader making decisions behind the scenes right now. So, we are trying to be patient and extend grace when we don’t think they’ve made the right or perfect decision. I fear committing to being in the classroom again full time might not be the safest thing, especially if we are possibly expecting a new surge of the virus around flu season. Oy vey.

“My biggest question is how FWISD will be able to continue serving under-served children. My heart goes out to families I know that are struggling much more than ours with distance learning.

“Right now, we are looking at backup plans in case schools are more online than in the classroom next year. We absolutely love our school, so it would feel weird pulling our kids out even for a season, but I just don’t think they can do an entire year mostly online. I’ve started researching co-ops and homeschool curriculums that might fit our needs for next year.”


What about you? What are you thinking? Feeling about the 2020 – 2021 school year? What questions would you love answered? Share those below and keep this conversation going. 


  1. I have 2 children. My daughter goes to Harmony school of innovation and my son was attending a program for 2 year olds twice a week. His school didn’t give any work or have any meetings so that was helpful. My daughter however was given a lot of work. Her school sent out a schedule and they had her working from 8 am to 3:30 pm. They mixed online work, worksheets, and 50 minute Zoom meetings 3 times a week. The had us click on all these different links and go to all sorts of websites to get her work.It was tough. Aside from that, my 2 year old had virtual speech therapy on Fridays ans I had to work with him during the week as his therapist would give us homework to work on.

    It got to the point that I just had my daughter do ALL of her work on Mondays and Tuesday’s and the rest of the week was hers.

    I truly hope next year resembles some kind of normalcy because I cant do this again. It was beyond tough for me. My husband is a teacher so a lot of the time he was busy with meetings and making sure his kids had their work done. Because of that, all of the work fell on my shoulders.
    I’m honestly scared to hear what the schools have planned next year. I have a feeling I know what they’re going to say and I dont want to hear it lol

  2. Being a mom of 4 daughters twin seniors, a junior, and a 7th grader… this has been an emotional journey. Having 3 kids taking a total of 16 AP exams at home was unbearable… my girls felt extremely unprepared for the new format. They all felt like they learned absolutely nothing… had less than 2 classroom meetings a week each… very little interaction. I’m praying we won’t be online learning next year and my twins can actually go to college, it’s been heart breaking seeing all of my girls miss out on so much

  3. I loved reading this! As a mother I’ve been so overwhelmed and I only have one daughter! She’s in 4th grade this year and craves the social part of school. The first few weeks we dealt with a lot depression, for a lack of better words. Her anxiety was out the roof and she was covered in hives. We drank chamomile tea and took a lot of epson salt baths. I came home one day to her on FaceTime with 2 friends and they were watching a movie together on tv. Total mom meltdown. Once they finally announce school was done for the year she was able to calm down some. The not knowing was the worst for her. My husband and I both worked our normal 40 hours a week through all of this so if it wouldn’t have been for my mom, who is also a teacher, I wouldn’t have been able to manage. They would do my moms school work in the morning at her school and start my daughters at 1 everyday. They had such a good routine down after the first couple of weeks! But with at least one zoom meeting a day, sometimes 2 she was spending 5-6 hours a day doing school work! Even my mom was a little overwhelmed trying to keep up with everything, every teacher wanted something different as far as how things needed to be turned and every week it was different. I NEEEEEED them to go back to school on the fall!! At least some of the time anyway. This is not for my kid and I’m not sure she’d manage if we were all online again.

  4. I am deeply concerned for the possibility of shortened days or schooling on alternate days as FWISD has as a possibility. My son is going into the third grade next year. He is dyslexic, has a learning disability and also receives speech services. My son needs in person instruction. Having in person instruction half of the time will be a major disservice to him. I am a single working mom so if the calendar passes with an alternate schedule my son will end up in daycare. What instruction will he get there? He still would risk exposure because I’m sure other working parents with no other alternatives will have to resort to daycare. That totally defeats the purpose of attempting to reduce exposure and my son will lose out on his education.


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