BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - With the school year fast approaching, most South Mississippi parents are shopping for laptops, hand sanitizer and other safety products— instead of the usual back to school supplies.
This comes as some families prepare for in-person classes again or for distance learning at home. That’s the case for 11-year-old Airiana Houghton and her seven-year-old brother Christopher Walker.
They both will be learning from home with their mother, Betty Walker, until at least December. The decision was made due to her medical condition.
“That’s what made the decision so hard,” Walker said. “You so badly want to send them to normal, traditional schooling.”
Kristen Allen is also keeping her children home this school year for similar reasons. She wants to reduce the chance of family members contracting COVID-19.
“My oldest son said that if he went to school, he doesn’t think he can bare not being able to see my parents or even my brother and his wife for the duration of the school year, and then two weeks after,” she said.
Despite some districts offering some form of distance learning, parents say some families have to send their children back to school due to scheduling conflicts or the need for one-on-one learning with instructors.
However, parents are cautiously buying items like uniforms, in case, campuses shut down in the near future.
Stores like School and Scrubs say the school year changes have led parents to buy just a set of uniforms rather than multiples. The pandemic is also causing problems keeping certain items in store.
Owner Laurie Brown said, “If it’s not in stock and it has to come from a factory, that’s when we’ve been having an issue. I know it’s all going to be in. I tell [parents] it’s all going to be in for Wednesday, the day before school starts.”
With so much caution and uncertainty surrounding the upcoming school year, parents say it’s best to remain calm for the children’s sake.
Walker said, “Being who they look up to if I’m scared, they’re scared. If I show that it’s going to be OK, then it’s going to be OK.”
Some parents are now calling Gov. Tate Reeves to push back the start of public schools in order to give more time for families and teachers to prepare for the new changes.