Hannah Lebovits, her husband and two young children live in a county in Texas that has not been as hard-hit by COVID-19 as neighboring Dallas has been.
After months of juggling childcare with full-time work from home, they found a summer camp that was instituting a long list of safety precautions before opening including masks, social distancing, no sharing of food and so on.
These safety precautions matched the list the school district is in the process of implementing.
Lebovits enrolled her kids in camp and within days a COVID-19 outbreak hit, several kids and teachers tested positive and the camp was closed.
“This is what school is going to look like too. And it’s frightening,” she wrote in a now viral tweet.
Lebovits tells Business Insider the details of her decision, the outbreak and how it taught her not to send her kids to school in the fall.
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When I tweeted about the closure of my kids’ day camp in suburban Dallas last week, I had hoped that a few people would see it and think about what our lives will look like if schools attempt to open this fall. I hadn’t expected almost 80,000 likes and countless retweets. But the story struck a chord. Because it’s exactly what every parent across this country is worried about.
In late June, after having our kids home for almost four months and moving across the country amidst a global pandemic, we decided to put our two young children in day camp. They were to be out Monday-Friday from 9:00am – 3:45pm.
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Though we had watched numbers rise rapidly in neighboring Dallas County, in our area, Collin County, the cases, and certainly the death numbers, have been far lower and the camp was situated even father away. The camp put numerous safety precautions in place, too, including mask wearing, daily temperature checks, social distancing of age groups, no food or material sharing, the list went on and on.
They sounded like the same precautions our schools have been emailing us about. So, we made the choice. We prepared our kids by socially isolating and practicing mask wearing at home. Then we sent them to camp.
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Less than two weeks in, a child at the camp was sent home sick with a fever and a headache and tested positive for COVID-19. Within the next few days, other children and counselors tested positive as well. The camp immediately shut down.
The whole situation really shook us up.
My husband and I are scared for our children and have been monitoring them and ourselves. But we also have no idea what we’re going to do about school this fall.
For the first time, we’re taking in earnest about the idea of entirely homeschooling our 6-year-old and 3-year-old. We both have jobs, so we don’t know if that’s even feasible. But we’re so worried about the safety of our children and ourselves, we have to consider it.
After I tweeted about my experience, I received hundreds of replies and direct messages from people worried about exactly the scenario I described. Several told me that they’ve decided not to sending their kids out, even when they could, because of the fear of an outbreak. Others noted that they send their kids to camp or day care but are afraid every day. Still others DMed to tell me that they were on the fence about the issue and that my tweet helped them decide.
But some people didn’t seem to value the difficult choice many parents have to make.
Several comments expressed disbelief that we even considered sending our kids out. Others claimed that because kids like ours were out now, that’s why schools will have difficulties in the fall.
I think those claims are incredibly inaccurate and frankly, very unfair.
Many of us who’ve watched the case numbers rise across the country understand that there are risks to being in public places.
But for parents the decision as to whether to send our children to a camp, daycare, or soon, a school, is a complicated one.
We’re falling terribly behind at our jobs during a period of economic uncertainty. Our kids are off and our own mental health is frayed from turning our home into an isolation ward. Everything has been turned upside down.
We make decisions all the time about degrees of comfort and safety for our kids. And for most of us, there are clear pathways to these decisions. Data, stories, our gut. We trust a variety of things to help us determine what’s best for our kids. But there’s no playbook here. We’re all lost and confused and our kids are struggling, as well.
I know that for us, this was a wake-up call. We know so little about what this virus is or does, especially to children. But we now know exactly how we feel now and we’re making decisions based on that.
Camp was a test-run for school. And to us, that attempt failed. And the camp staff tried everything, did everything right.
When will we feel comfortable sending them to school? Like everything else in this pandemic-state, I can’t say for certain. But for now, we’re working off of the data we do have — our own lived-experience — and we can’t imagine sending our kids to school this fall. We couldn’t have known until we tried, but we are now certain that we feel most safe with our children home.
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