EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Some parents have already made the decision, while others are still mulling it over. Deciding between distance learning and in-person learning on campus is a tough choice to make. Families must weigh the risk of COVID-19 against the shortcomings of remote learning.
There's no one-size-fits-all approach for making that choice. Child psychiatrist Dr. Sarah Martin with Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso says when it comes to the psychiatric side of that decision, parents should consider a child's learning style and family circumstances.
Dr. Martin worries remote learning could widen the gap between families from different socioeconomic groups, especially when it comes to how familiar parents might be with technology.
She also said remote learning can be harder for families where parents do not speak English, if their children are attending an English-speaking school. Remote learning can also potentially be more challenging for single parents or parents who have multiple children.
Parents should also pay attention to their child's learning style, Dr. Martin said. Students that are highly motivated on their own might succeed more in online learning situations than peers who take less interest in their lessons.
"It seems like kids that are identified as having problems or issues or situations that would make distance learning not as effective, they probably should go to school at least part of the time in person," Dr. Martin said.
When it comes to social interaction, Dr. Martin said each child will have a different level of need. Age can impact that need as well.
"I actually worry less about the younger children than the older children," she said. "The teenagers are really the ones where if we're talking about the normal developmental trajectory, those are the ones that should be spending more time with friends."
Dr. Martin recommends finding ways for all children to safely socialize during this time, as she warns the pandemic can have an impact on mental health.
While these tips are focused on the psychiatric impact, families should also consider the physical risk of returning to campus as well, especially if members of their household are at high risk for developing complications from COVID-19.
More information on sending children back to campus safely can be found here.