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Parents still anxious over in-person learning amid high COVID-19 numbers as new school year starts

Mothers and professionals weigh in on parental back-to-school fears and the best way to ease anxiety from sending kids back to class.

CLEVELAND — On this week's "Education Station," we spotlight how parents are coping with their children being back in class amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

Schools have taken extra precautions to keep kids safe, but it's still a parent's job to worry, right? 3News got a chance to speak to several parents and panelists at a recent fundraising event to see how they're handling in-school learning during the pandemic.

RELATED: More Education Station coverage from 3News

"The first couple weeks, I'm not gonna lie, he was a train wreck,"
Brecksville mother of two Anna McCallion said of her 8-year-old son Aiden, who needed time to adjust to the new people and protocols in the classroom this year. The third grader had been home learning virtually since halfway through his first grade year.

Sending Aiden back to class gave Anna anxiety.

"As a parent, your job is to protect your children and keep them safe," she said. "In this situation, I have no control, and I think that’s probably my No. 1 concern."

Parents are also worried about their kids being away from them all day during school

"It has been difficult, as we launched this school year, for students and parents to separate," Toya Owens-Hodge, a licensed social worker in the area.

On Sunday, I emceed the Mommy & Me Ball in Garfield Heights, an annual fundraiser for local resource center Pregnant with Possibilities. Mothers and their children dressed to the nines for dinner, dancing and discussion.

I interviewed four professional women panelists — experts in fields like education, behavioral health and social work. They shared other concerns parents have after over a year of their children learning at home.

"What I see families dealing with is really just trying to become reacclimated with the education process," Tierra Banks, CEO of mother and daughter advocacy group Mended Inc., said.

According to the Brookings Institution, 43% of Black parents, 42% of Hispanic parents and 19% of White parents prefer fully remote learning during the pandemic over learning in class.

"Last year and even this year has been tough," Latoya Smith, Vice President and Talent Acquisition Manager with 5/3 Bank, admitted. "The transition from the classroom to virtual learning then back to the classroom again — I can tell you I am not smarter than a fifth grader, and I have a Master's Degree."

The panelists’ advice for parents still anxious about their children being back in class amid COVID? There’s safety in numbers.

"Partnering with the schools, partnering with the teachers, partnering with the administrators, that's key," Smith said. "It'll ease some fears if everybody's working together for the child."