Navigating The 2021-2022 School Year In A Blended Florida Family
The new school year is quickly approaching. Many parents were hopeful that children would no longer need to wear masks at school, or at least not in the classroom. And while Governor DeSantis has made it clear he will not force students to wear a mask, COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Florida and elsewhere. In addition, all elementary aged children and most middle-schoolers remain eligible for any vaccine. How do parents navigate what is best for their shared children if one parent thinks the child should continue with virtual learning or that it is unsafe for the child to return back to in-person classes without a vaccine?
Seeking Common Ground for Your Child
Unfortunately for children across the country, this is the third school year affected by the COVID-19 virus. Many kids have experienced learning loss due to the virtual platform, or are missing out on social and extracurricular opportunities that cannot be offered via Zoom. How can parents make the right decision for their child? If your child is old enough to discuss their educational future, discuss it with them. If they are old enough to get the Pfizer vaccine, ask them if they would like to get it. Do not pressure your child, but get a gauge on what their feelings are and whether they would be more comfortable learning virtually or in the classroom. Ultimately, you want to make decisions in the best interest of your child collaboratively with your co-parent and present a united front to your child, but this can only occur with open communication and a willingness to act in concert.
If Issues Arise During the School Year
If you and your ex fundamentally disagree about getting a vaccine for your teenager, if your ex refuses to wear a mask or if your ex is telling your child not to wear a mask in school, you may be dealing with issues beyond your control. Even though the Governor is not mandating mask usage in schools, ultimately the decision is left to each county and school board and children are expected to comply. Children can be sent home and their education is disrupted if they cannot follow classroom rules. You might also be concerned about sending your child back to class in-person if they are immunocompromised. Most school districts are flexible and may offer a hybrid schedule for students to take advantage of. However, students who are not vaccinated will need to be quarantined if exposed to COVID-19, meaning they will need to spend up to 2 weeks at home learning virtually. This rule also applies to staff and faculty who did not obtain the vaccination. As school starts up in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties, have a plan in place and discuss what is best for your child with your co-parent.
Contact Us Today for Help
No one could have predicted COVID-19. There is no right answer for parents deciding what is best for their children this school year. Coparents need to work together to find common ground and ensure they are meeting their child’s needs. It’s possible decisions might need to be re-evaluated or that parents won’t agree. In that case it is wise to consult with an experienced family law attorney to help you find a solution. Our Tampa family attorneys at Bubley & Bubley, P.A. are seasoned litigators with more than three decades of experience helping families through difficult times. We are standing by should you require our assistance. Call today to schedule a consultation.