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Online or in-person: A ‘tough situation’ for parents

WINDOW ROCK

Cornfields Chapter Vice President Wallace James Jr. has twin daughters who are seniors this year at Ganado High School.

Before the first day of school, James struggled with the decision to allow his daughters to return to in-person learning.

James said his family lost two family members to the virus.

His daughters, he noticed, also began to have a rebellious streak.

“We started noticing the frustration on their faces and in their attitudes,” James said. “We would ask them, ‘How are you guys coping with this? How’s your online classes going?’

“From the beginning,” he said, “they had their struggles, just due to the fact that the school wasn’t really set up to do online courses.”

To help them cope, James said they started going on hikes and walks. At the same time, he constantly reminded them to wear masks and wash their hands.

James said while he understands his daughters’ need to interact with friends, he drew the line when the idea of seeing their friends came up.

Eventually, after they were vaccinated, he allowed his daughters’ friends to visit but only outside. He required all to wear masks and to maintain social distance.

John Tsosie, the founder of Walking the Healing Path and a single parent of two teens, said he’s had to make the tough choice between letting his kids go back to school or keeping them home.

Tsosie’s daughter, a freshman, does not mind being home for online schooling. His son, a junior, is having a tough time and wants to go back to in-person learning.

“It is a tough situation for us as parents,” Tsosie said. “I have one kid who wants to go back and one who wants to stay home. Some parents want their kids to go back. I don’t know, I might send him to school.”

The twins were cheerleaders at Ganado High last year. Doris said going back to school is better than learning online.

“The teachers like teaching and can’t really understand what they’re doing because it’s just online,” Doris said. “I think, in schools, it’s just better, because they really teach you in class. I prefer to be in school.”

Doris said after she graduates she plans to go to college to study nursing and eventually become a cardiologist. That’s how the coronavirus pandemic influenced her, she added.

And about her teachers?

“They say, ‘We’re glad to see you, we have your back, we missed you guys,’” she said. “I don’t know, they seem happy to see us.”

To date schools reporting COVID-19 exposures include: Kin Da Lichee Olta; Kirtland Central High and middle schools; Hunter’s Point Boarding School; Ganado Unified School District-Alternative Education; Greasewood Springs Community School; Lukachukai Community School; Ch’ooshgai Community School; two Head Start schools; Piñon High, middle and elementary schools; and Shonto Preparatory School.

A Flagstaff Unified School District school, Judy Nelson Elementary School in Kirtland, and Leupp Community School also reported COVID-19 exposures.

Of those schools, Greasewood and Piñon Elementary reported exposures three times.

Dr. Valory Wangler, from Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital, said a vaccine for kids between 10 and 12 could be available in the next couple of months. For younger children, a vaccine could be available within the school year.

“One thing all kids over the age of 12 should be doing is wearing masks,” Wangler said. “It is essential if they have younger siblings, and they might have grandparents not vaccinated.”

About The Author

Donovan Quintero

"Dii, Diné bi Naaltsoos wolyéhíígíí, ninaaltsoos át'é. Nihi cheii dóó nihi másání ádaaní: Nihi Diné Bizaad bił ninhi't'eelyá áádóó t'áá háadida nihizaad nihił ch'aawóle'lágo. Nihi bee haz'áanii at'é, nihisin at'é, nihi hózhǫ́ǫ́jí at'é, nihi 'ach'ą́ą́h naagééh at'é. Dilkǫǫho saad bee yájíłti', k'ídahoneezláo saad bee yájíłti', ą́ą́ chánahgo saad bee yájíłti', diits'a'go saad bee yájíłti', nabik'íyájíłti' baa yájíłti', bich'į' yájíłti', hach'į' yándaałti', diné k'ehgo bik'izhdiitįįh. This is the belief I do my best to follow when I am writing Diné-related stories and photographing our events, games and news. Ahxéhee', shik'éí dóó shidine'é." - Donovan Quintero is assistant editor of the Navajo Times, and an award-winning Diné journalist, who is based in Window Rock, Arizona. He can be contacted at dq@navajotimes.com.

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