Some families gear up for return to in-person schooling as early as next week

LOWER MERION TWP., Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Ask any parent, any student: the school year has been an adjustment to say the least.

For some families, remote learning has been a struggle.

"It's just not sustainable for families, and I don't think it's good for the children to meet their social and emotional needs," said Danielle Vitale of Havertown. "I see them kind of struggling with a lack of contact with friends."

As school districts like Haverford, Radnor and Lower Merion gear up to return to hybrid in-person schooling, some parents said they welcome it, but are taking precautions.

"I'll walk them to school, I won't put them on the bus. I felt like that was one thing I could do to keep them socially distant," said Jennifer Hepner of Wynnewood. "Also keep them a little more socially distant and also let the kids that really do need bussing have that social distance on the bus."

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Lower Merion School District spokesperson Amy Buckman said the Montgomery County incident and positivity rates show now is the window of opportunity. The district is having a staggered return with kindergarteners returning next week, grades 1-3 the week after, and so on.

"There are some other concerns about the hybrid and the transportation and the cleaning, but what we're seeing, as we know, this is a compromise for everyone and we really try to prioritize the health and safety and the learning of our students," said Buckman

Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine Family Medicine Professor Dr. Larry Finkelstein said there is a way to reopen safely right now, but parents need to have a talk with their kids.

"If this is the first time that kids are seeing each other, they're happy, they're excited," said Finkelstein. "And what are they going to do? They're going to hug, high-five. So one aspect, if you're a parent, saying to your kids, 'I know you're going to be really happy to see your friends, give them air hugs, give them air high-fives.'"

However, some parents said their kids are opting to continue virtual learning for the rest of the year.

"She's worried about contracting COVID and she's also doesn't like the idea that in the lunchroom everybody has to take off their mask," said Marin Smith of Bryn Mawr.
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