One parent’s struggle to parent during a pandemic

By Nathaly Sierra

Chloe, Olivia, and Amber Eder during winter break from Norwood Elementary School. 
Photo by Amber Eder

Amber Eder is a 40-year-old mother of two daughters, Olivia, 10, and Chloe, 8.  Eder attends DCCC as a part-time student pursuing a career in early childhood education. She also works two jobs as a daycare teacher and as a stylist for Lane Bryant. 

Some challenges she has faced during the coronavirus pandemic are managing her time to work and study appropriately while still helping her daughters to adjust to virtual and in-person school. 

Eder, who started attending DCCC in 2017, now takes online classes. “Depending on the class and the workload, I sometimes had a hard time keeping up with it,” Eder said. 

Like their mother, Olivia and Chloe have now experienced what it is like to learn online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “They get frustrated when they do not understand something or fall behind,” Eder said. 

Olivia and Chloe attend Norwood Elementary School, which is part of the Interboro School District in Pennsylvania. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, they attended school virtually, and now they are back to school in person.  

Norwood Elementary School has started implementing different methods to keep children safe. Social distancing, wearing masks, and having plastic shields at each student’s desks are safety protocols each student and staff have to follow. “I believe they are doing the best they can do with the situation at hand,” Eder said. 

Chloe and Olivia Eder on their way to their first day back to Norwood Elementary for in-person learning. Photo by Amber Eder

Eder is one of the thousands of parents in the Philadelphia area trying to help her children adjust to the new education system while making sure they are safe. 

The Education Week organization researched 907 school districts in the United States. According to their study, 74% out of 100 of the largest school districts decided to allow their students to do remote learning only; 27% opted for hybrid learning, consisting of students attending school virtually and in person, and  24% of the districts analyzed decided to allow their students to attend school fully in person. 

Experts recommend virtual learning as the way to go to provide education during the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid contagion. For some parents who must choose between virtual or in-person learning, recognizing the pros and cons of virtual learning is essential.  

According to an article published by the British Medical Journal, issues are likely to emerge if a child is only learning virtually. Issues include the lack of physical activity, the impact isolation might have on a child’s emotional health, the lack of interaction with peers and teachers, and potential exposure to violence at home. 

The National Institute of Health explains the consequences of virtual learning from a neuropsychological perspective. The human brain develops significantly during childhood years. Studies have emphasized how exposure to a computer screen for extended periods has implications in a child’s processing speed, verbal intelligence, and sustained attention. 

Experts say it depends on the family and their needs when deciding to allow their kids to attend school in person or virtual. 

Olivia Eder attends math class over Zoom. Photo by Amber Eder

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a series of checklists parents can follow to make this decision easier.

  The CDC lists some factors families need to consider if parents have the option of in-person learning. Considering the health of household members, the school protocol/ resources to maintain a safe environment, and if the child knows how important it is to wear a mask and social distance is crucial.

According to Eder, being back to school in person has helped her family.  Now that Eder’s daughters are busy during the day at school, she has more time to concentrate on her jobs and school. “Trying not to feel bad for leaving my girls when I have so much schoolwork is often challenging,” Eder explained. 

So far, Eder said her girls have responded well to the new system they have at school. They follow the rules responsibly, such as wearing their mask in school and inform their teachers when they feel sick since their school requires them to do so. 

“Kids are often sent home if they have any headaches or tummy issues,” said Eder, referring to how strict the school district is with the situation. 

Still, Eder said her family is having difficulty with the lack of interaction they have with family and friends. “We cannot see everyone and have playdates like we use to,” Eder said. “They complain a lot about that, and I understand them because I also feel like them.” 

Contact Nathaly Sierra at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

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