Parents struggle as schools reopen amid coronavirus surge

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Rachel Adamus holds her son Paul, 7, on their porch before the bus arrives for the first day of school on Monday, Aug. 3, 2020, in Dallas, Ga. Adamus is among tens of thousands of students in Georgia and across the nation who were set to resume in-person school Monday for the first time since March. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Putting your child on the bus for the first day of school is always a leap of faith for a parent. Now, on top of the usual worries about youngsters adjusting to new teachers and classmates, there’s COVID-19.

Rachel Adamus was feeling those emotions Monday morning as she got 7-year-old Paul ready for his first day of second grade and prepared 5-year-old Neva for the start of kindergarten.

With a new school year beginning this week in some states, Adamus struggled to balance her fears with her belief that her children need the socialization and instruction that school provides, even as the U.S. death toll from the coronavirus has hit about 155,000 and cases are rising in numerous places.

As the bus pulled away from the curb in Adamus' Dallas, Georgia, neighborhood, the tears finally began to fall.

“We have kept them protected for so long,” said Adamus, who said her aunt died from COVID-19 in Alabama and her husband’s great-uncle succumbed to the virus in a New Jersey nursing home. "They haven’t been to restaurants. We only go to parks if no one else is there. We don’t take them to the grocery store. And now they’re going to be in the classroom with however many kids for an entire day with a teacher.”

The Adamus children are among tens of thousands of students across the nation who resumed in-person school Monday for the first time since March. Parents in Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee are also among those navigating the new academic year this week.

Many schools that are recommencing in-person instruction are also giving parents a stay-at-home virtual option; Adamus, like many other parents, decided against that. Other schools are planning a hybrid approach, with youngsters alternating between in-person classes and online learning.

But an uptick in COVID-19 cases in many states has prompted districts to scrap in-person classes at least for the start of the school year, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington.