Her Recession: School districts’ hybrid schedule posing challenges for families

SPOKANE, Wash. — The news of Spokane’s fifth and sixth graders heading back to class is welcome for many, especially since it’s been nearly a year since they’ve stepped foot in school. However, it’s become a challenge for some working families since kids will be on a hybrid schedule.

In many cases, moms end up having to carry more of the burden in figuring out what to do for their kids.

Being a mom, consistency is key. However, in a pandemic, that’s been hard to find. With more kids heading back to class, people would think that’d bring consistency, but it’s not. At least, that’s the case for Spokane mom Sarah Walsh.

“I feel like there is this perception, ‘Oh, kids are back in school. No problems right? We’re fine.’ But, we’re not all fine,” Walsh said.

She’s had a tiring year, trying to make things work for her two kids learning virtually.

She’s working from home as full-time social worker. She’s had to ask her job for some flexibility, knowing that her kids may need her in the other room while they learned.

“There’s that constant worry in the back of your head of ‘How far can they bend? Is it going to work for my family?'” she explained.

Walsh’s fiancée’s work couldn’t be as accommodating, so she had to take it on herself.

The option of quitting her job was also not in the cards. Both she and her husband are in need of both paychecks to keep the roof over their heads. It’s been tough, because he wants to help her.

“Sometimes he’ll come home and want to be supportive, and it’s like, ‘You haven’t been where I’ve had to be in this situation. So, you can’t quite get it, but you want,'” she explained.

On Wednesday, her oldest daughter, Sabrina heads back to school. Walsh thought she had some relief, until she had to figure out all the logistics.

Students returning to class will be on a hybrid model. Group A goes to class on Mondays and Wednesdays, Group B on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Every other Friday, they alternate.

Spokane Public Schools says it plans to keep grades 5-12 on a hybrid schedule because it can’t accommodate all students safely in buildings at the same time. There isn’t enough room to social distance.

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Having a hybrid schedule, especially with alternating Fridays makes it hard to find consistent, affordable child care. Some places require part-time or full-time. Having that alternating Friday makes it a little harder.

Walsh says she’s exhausted many options, trying to find what would work for her family.

“It’s all these things I didn’t think about. I thought in-person was going to be the easier thing, and instead, it’s more of a headache,” she said.

She is happy for both of her kids to be back in the classroom, adding that it’s needed for her daughter. Walsh says she’s finally found child care, too. However, all of this didn’t come without tears and a lot of stress.

“I’ve been able to talk about it and be smiling right now, but I’ve had moments where I just need a good cry, because I don’t know how to make it fit anymore,” she said. “I don’t know how to be anymore flexible to fit all the standards.”

All Walsh can do right now is look toward the future and hope for some consistency soon.

“We didn’t plan for things to be this way, but you still have to do all the things we expected you to do if you’re going to be a working mom,” she said.

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