Ella and Her Siblings Will Study Online This Fall

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by Michael Casten |

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The time finally came for our family to make a decision about the type of schooling our children would choose this fall.

The school district had offered two choices: a hybrid model in which students would attend in person two or three days a week and then online for the remaining days, or an online academy in which they would study remotely five days a week.

We were attracted to the hybrid model, particularly because our three kids would thrive with social interaction. We thought in-person instruction to be a higher quality education than remote learning. We researched how schools would ensure that kids and teachers would be safe. And our kids liked the hybrid model, too. 

The advantage of the online academy was better safety for the kids and the staff. Students might not receive the same level of instruction as the hybrid model offered simply because teachers would be splitting their time between the two models. 

We researched data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about new COVID-19 cases and deaths caused by the disease. We noticed that both numbers were rising. This concerned us as parents of a child with SMA whose respiratory system is weaker than a person’s without SMA. Our focus began shifting to the online academy model. 

We sat down with the kids and talked about each model. They still liked the hybrid model, but the more we talked about safety, the more they began to understand the severity of the situation.

More research followed, along with more discussions and looking into what other people had chosen. As time ticked away, and the deadline for us to make a decision drew near, my wife, Lindsay, and I had a final talk before choosing. We discussed the pros and cons of each model. In the end, we were convinced the online academy would be best for our kids. We just can’t expose our daughter Ella to the risks, which could be fatal for her. That was our bottom line, and we submitted our choice to the school district.

Two days later, the district announced that everyone would be enrolled in their online academy, and no hybrid model would be available for at least the first six weeks of school. The district will reevaluate at that time and provide us with additional information.

While the hybrid model had its advantages, we knew deep down that we had to protect Ella first and foremost. We didn’t want Ella’s two siblings, Ava or Henry, to use the hybrid model either, even if Ella didn’t, because they could bring home germs from school. 

Although the school district has moved to have everyone study online, we felt good that we had made our decision before the change. We had prioritized Ella’s health and safety, which as her parents, is our responsibility.


Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.


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