Parents brace themselves as the school year approaches

Coronavirus Pandemic

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) —As if shopping for school supplies and school uniforms wasn’t stressful enough, parents are now facing an even tougher decision — will they send their child back to class during the pandemic.

The start of the new school year is quickly approaching and in Bay County, parents have up until school starts to make the decision.

But three Bay County moms said they didn’t have a lot of wiggle room in their decision-making process.

“It’s her version of normal and I hate those words but it’s the truth,” said mom Kalani Nooney.

Nooney has a little girl who’s going into kindergarten at Highland Park Elementary.

She said this wasn’t exactly how she pictured her daughter’s first official year of school, but she is making the best of a sticky situation.

“How do I explain this major event to my child,” Nonney said. “It was a repeat of Hurrican Michael all over again.”

Kristi Claunch, mom of two said the worst part is the fear of the unknown.

“Gavin is going into second grade at Bay Haven, and Josie is going into K-4 at Grace Preschool,” Claunch said. “We did take the option to have them go to brick and mortar — we didn’t feel like we had too much of a choice in our position.”

Claunch and her husband both work full-time jobs and when schools shut down in March, they had to improvise.

“It was very difficult trying to teach my child as well as get my 40 plus hours in each week,” Claunch said. “I’m hoping if that had to happen in the fall, they would be better prepared to where the parents wouldn’t have to do as much work.”

Nicole Phipps, teacher and mom of six said she too will send the kids back to classes.

“I don’t get paid if I don’t work so this has been very financially draining,” Phipps said. “I don’t really want to live in fear I guess.”

The COVID shutdown that happened in Spring is still fresh on everyone’s mind — they fear it could happen again.

“Yes that is concerning,” said Phipps.

“It was hard because we worked all day and got home late,” Nooney said. “We’d get home late, and then we’re trying to make you stay up late to finish assignments.”

“I feel if it’something that needs to be done, then you know there is nothing we can do about it,” said Claunch.

Claunch said she is lucky to have the option to work from home if necessary. It’s how she and her husband, John managed before — but it wasn’t easy.

Phipps said she is concerned about COVID spreading in the classroom but is holding onto her faith in the teachers and the staff to keep everyone safe.

“We did a month of summer school in June and it went really well,” Phipps said. “We took everyone’s temperature before they came in. You really have to rely on the families to do what they are supposed to do.”

“We are putting our kids in their hands,” said Claunch. “We’ve seen a lot of notices from Bay Haven and it looks like they are doing everything they can to make it as safe of a place as they can.”

Nooney said she knows the school system is trying their best to prepare as much as they can, but there are things you just can’t prepare for.

“How do you train for something like this?” Nooney said. “We celebrate what little things we can.”

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