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Tips for heading back to school during the pandemic
02:03 - Source: CNN

Programming note: Watch CNN’s Special Report “Back to School: Kids, Covid and the Fight to Reopen” with Jake Tapper on Friday, March 12, at 9 p.m. ET.

CNN  — 

It’s been one year since millions of students last stepped inside a classroom. One year since schools started shuttering to help get Covid-19 under control.

But just as the pandemic has fluctuated across the United States, so have the debates about when and how to bring students back into schools.

With vague national guidelines about reopening classrooms, decisions have largely fallen on states and local school districts – leading to a hodgepodge of strategies and widespread discord about what’s best.

Here’s a look at why some parents, students, officials and teachers are so passionate about their stances – and what they want the other sides to know:

If schools don’t open soon, this family could lose its home

Olga Reyes, with her twins Alondra and Daniel Margarito, quit her job when remote learning started a year ago. After that, her husband was laid off.

When Olga Reyes’ twins started remote learning a year ago, she was forced to quit her job as a nanny to stay with her own children at home.

Since then, the 10-year-olds have suffered academically and emotionally – despite Reyes’ attempts to serve as a part-time teacher and amateur IT technician when the Wi-Fi or Zoom connections go down.

“My kids are not doing well with distance learning,” the San Francisco mother said. “They did have good grades in the past. But right now, they are not doing well. … They lack the motivation to learn.”

But beyond the academic stress is the family’s dire financial situation. Nine months after Reyes quit her job to stay home with her kids, her husband was laid off from his construction job.

“Right now, we don’t have an income.” Reyes said. “We are getting food from the food bank that is being distributed weekly. And we are surviving with the last savings that we had from last year.”

Reyes estimates she and her husband have one month’s worth of savings left. If schools don’t open soon, “we are at the risk of losing our housing.”

“We don’t know what’s going to happen after. That’s why we are asking to the district to open the schools, because we need to work,” she said.

The San Francisco Unified School District said it’s on track to offer in-person learning on April 12 “at a select number of schools for our youngest students.”