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East Lansing parents reflect on their 'new normal' following school closures

March 23, 2020
<p>Graffiti is seen on June 6, 2014, at East Lansing High School. Corey Damocles/The State News</p>

Graffiti is seen on June 6, 2014, at East Lansing High School. Corey Damocles/The State News

Photo by Corey Damocles | The State News

Following Gov. Whitmer's announcement March 12, Michigan schools are closed for three weeks to reduce the spread of novel coronavirus in Michigan. The closure included all after-school activities, clubs and athletics. 

At this time, schools are expected to reopen April 13 after spring break but the date is yet to be confirmed according to East Lansing Public Schools Superintendent Dori Leyko. Parents in the East Lansing community shared their opinions on how they are adapting to the situation

“It feels like we have a new normal,” mother of two, Dianna Erickson said. "Kids are adaptable and they can rebound more than (what) you actually give them credit for."

Erickson said the hardest thing is trying to balance their needs while still working remotely.

"My work has been very flexible and I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to work from home," she said. "I have other friends that are not able to yet and it’s made a huge difference in our lives.”

Erickson has a 14-year-old son who attends East Lansing High School and a 10-year-old daughter enrolled in Marble Elementary School. Erickson said she feels lost at times on what to do as a parent of a teenager in the current situation.

“I’m trying to help him navigate through what he is feeling, as well as trying to have him still stay connected to his friends,” Erickson said. “But I also want to limit the electronics which is hard because that’s how they communicate.”

Owen Blank, who has a child in the sixth grade, said he found the school’s communication to be fine but thought that not all things needed to be cancelled. Blank was disappointed that the parent-teacher conferences were cancelled but he didn't have any complaints or issues with the school.  

“I’m a little torn,” Blank said. "On one hand I understand from the public health standpoint of having everybody together in a place does raise the risk a little bit. But also, it could be hardship for people that need to get their kids watched for a long time … it’s hard to find three weeks worth of childcare.”

Mother of a kindergartener and a first-grader, Kelsey Padgett said closing the schools was the right thing to do because social distancing is making a difference in limiting the spread of the virus. She said the schools communicated what the plan was effectively to parents after Gov. Whitmer announced that schools would be closing.

“I was a teacher so I feel that I have the right tools and we have the internet,” Padgett said. “ ... I think for parents that don’t have those resources, it might be kind of hard for them. And some of them have work because they’re hourly paid or they can’t or don't have resources to stay home with their children, they’re going to have a harder time with this.”

Padgett writes a blog and has been sending it to other parents so they have an idea of how to get their kids out of their room during the pandemic.

“Just take your time to be with your family and distance yourself from everyone else,” Padgett said. “Enjoy the time with your kids. You’ll never have that time again so just take advantage of it.”

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