How to Decide Together about In-Person vs. Virtual Schooling

The COVID-19 pandemic has created new challenges for families everywhere — many of them completely new to all of us. Even the best of marriages can become strained in the stress we’re all under. One of the biggest stressors for parents right now: in-person vs. virtual schooling.

That’s right. Back to school season is upon us. And schools all over the world are deciding if and how to reopen and what it takes to hold classes virtually. In many cases, some of these choices are being left to the parents. 

This is, for the most part, a good thing, as parents are able to have some amount of control and flexibility in a difficult situation. However, the decision places an enormous onus on parents, especially if there’s any disagreement on what’s right. 

With that in mind, we’ve put together a guide to help couples decide together about in-person vs. virtual schooling — even if you don’t see completely eye to eye. 

Factors to Consider

There are two primary concerns that drive the debate regarding in person versus virtual learning: 

  • Safety of in-person schooling. The primary concern of opening in-person schools is transmission of the coronavirus. While all schools are putting social distancing measures in place before reopening, some protocols are better than others, and regardless of distancing, there is some risk of contracting the virus.
  • Quality of virtual learning. Virtual learning is completely new for many school-age children and educators. It also prevents many forms of social interactions that are just as important for kids. You should look into the quality of the virtual learning experience your kids’ school is offering. 

Talking to your child’s school and reading any information made available to parents can help you address these concerns. Find out whether the school (and your household) are equipped for virtual learning, and what distancing and safety measures will be put in place for in-person learning. 

What if We Disagree? 

Some parents will be completely on the same page when selecting virtual or in-person schooling. But what if you don’t see eye to eye? 

  • Talk it Out. Have an objective discussion regarding the risks and benefits of both learning platforms. Allow one another to speak your opinions without interrupting or interjecting. Focus on listening to understand. Use Intentional Dialogue if you have learned this technique
  • Give it Some Space. If you can’t come to agreement right away, give the issue, and your partner, a little bit of space to cool off.
  • Get a Third-Party Perspective. Third parties such as doctors and educators can be helpful in discussing objective facts. A relationship coach can also help you resolve conflicts civilly so that both partners feel heard.
  • Be on the Same Team in Front of Your Kids. When parents disagree in front of kids on parenting, this is often confusing and destabilizing for kids. Keep any disagreements private, and present a unified front so that kids know what rules to follow.

Still need advice or tips for making parenting decisions in the COVID-19 era? Contact Norene Gonsiewski and Tim Higdon.