Coronavirus concerns cause family to choose homeschooling

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
OKEECHOBEE — Pictured behind swing are Alexis (left) and Essance and on the swing (from left to right) are Sara, Kaylie, T.J. and Raina.

OKEECHOBEE — Many families find themselves wondering what to do with their children when school starts next year. When the CDC sent out a list of recommendations, a lot of people laughed, because they knew there was no way schools could comply with most of the things on the list, but how would schools keep the children safe? The Yates family is one of those families.

After debating the pros and cons for the last several months, the Yates family has decided they do not feel it is in the best interest of their family to send their children back to public school in the fall. Sara Yates will begin homeschooling her two daughters Raina (fifth grade) and Kaylie (sixth grade) when school starts again. Mrs. Yates will be homeschooling as an umbrella school and will also be teaching the children of several close family members. They will have four preschool/kindergarten students, one fifth grader and two to four sixth graders depending on decisions made over the next few weeks.

Most of the children involved have some type of respiratory problem and already miss a lot of school, said Mrs. Yates. “When the seasonal colds and allergies come around, they always catch them and get sicker than the other kids under normal circumstances. They already have to deal with Albuterol treatments and inhalers. We have also learned that it is not recommended that people with asthma or respiratory ailments wear masks because it makes it harder to breathe, but if they don’t wear a mask, they are more likely to catch the virus, so it’s a no-win situation.

“We are doing it through prayer and letting God direct us in it. Right now, we feel like this is what we should do for the safety of our kids.”

She said she saw a school out west somewhere that is going in with 2-by-4s and plastic wrap between the kids, designing the layout of the desks that way with the plastic wrap. “I don’t see the school district here realistically being able to follow those CDC recommendations to the fullest,” she said. “Even if they choose to do blended learning, if I’m going to have them at home, if I’ve got to be overseeing them to be sure they are doing their lessons, I might as well be teaching them.”

Prior to the outbreak of the virus, Mrs. Yates said she had no plans to home-school, because she has fibromyalgia and this sometimes makes it difficult to get through the day, but she will have help. In addition to Mrs. Yates, the children will be taught by Mrs. Yates’s two adult daughters — Essance and Alexis, and Mrs. Yates’ mother, who homeschooled Mrs. Yates when she was a child. The families of the other children will be involved as well, she said, but they work, and she plans to assign as little homework as possible.

When it comes to her physical limitations, Mrs. Yates said she has never been one to just lie in bed and let it take over. She generally forces herself to do things, but there are times her family makes her take a time-out. They each have their strengths they plan to bring to the table to keep the family, especially the children, safe as long as they feel it is necessary, she said. “We know there will be challenges to overcome, but we feel like this is the best choice for our family at this time.”

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