Metro parents and students still wrestling with anxiety, tech issues just before school starts

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February 07 2021 05:30 pm

OLATHE, Kan. — Whether in-person, hybrid or fully online, this school year promises to be unique. But with just one more sleep before the start of school in several metro districts, many parents say they just don’t feel ready.

Holly Palacio, a mom of three, was hoping her kids could start the year in face-to-face classrooms.  But her senior, sophomore and eighth grader will be all virtual through Olathe Public Schools.

“I’m one person. I’m going to be hopping back and forth between multiple rooms, trying to make sure everyone has what they need,” Palacio said.

Already, many Olathe parents say they’re having trouble logging into the online learning system, and they’re getting bombarded with countless emails from each classroom teacher with Zoom class links.

“It was overwhelming. I have one with special needs, another one with learning disorder, so keeping everyone organized and letting them have access to the information they need 7:45 on the morning Tuesday. It’s been very stressful,” Palacio said.

Palacio said it’s been enough to keep her own emotions in check, but her kids are struggling, too, and school hasn’t even started yet.

“I think the overriding label for this is stress and anxiety.  They have their own concerns about the software and the system’s capabilities,” Palacio said.

Francheska Allen will be sending her 4-year-old off to Olathe Public Schools pre-K Tuesday. While some families are having a hard time sifting through loads of information, her family feels left in the dark.

“We are on the opposite end of that spectrum. We don’t have an iPad yet. We don’t know what the schedule will look like,” Allen said.

While there’s a lot to be sorted out, she knows teachers and district leaders are working hard to make school during a pandemic possible and successful. She’s grateful for support from fellow parents, who are helping each other to handle it all.

“Parents are trying to band together through this whole thing because we’re all kind of in the same boat. Everybody is trying to do the best they can, trying to help their kids out and it’s a process already,” Allen said.

Olathe Public Schools have set up a new, expanded help desk, as have many other local districts.  Those help desks are anticipating a busy day Tuesday, with calls and messages from families who are trying to log onto virtual school for the first time. 

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