Families, administrators address confusing school schedules

EDWARDSBURG, Mich. - From the day the pandemic first hit last March to now almost a year later, parents, students, and school officials have been on a rollercoaster ride of school closings, reopenings, and switches in learning plans.

It's frustrating to be flexible but many say safety is more important.

Each day as the Gardini family drives home from school in Edwardsburg, mom isn’t asking what the kids did in school today, instead, she’s worried about how they will go to school tomorrow.

Haizlee Gardini, a first-grader at Edwardsburg Schools, and her sister Luciana who's in Pre-Kindergarten have woken up, put on clothes, and had the harsh reality of mom saying they won't be learning at school today.

“Yeah," Haizlee said."

*Luciana nods*

“That happened quite a few days," Trish Gardini, a mom of 3 said.

The back and forth with school schedules can be hard for any family but especially for one with two parents working.

"There was a considerable amount of stress that took place I think not only with our jobs but just with where our kids going to go every day and I never stopped working my husband never stopped working during that time - our work just looked different," she said.

And it can be hard on the children too.

"Sad, kind of mad," Haizlee said “Because I didn't really get to see my friends. And usually, I see them every day.”

But, confusion with the school calendar is nothing new for the Gardini family or school administrators.

"Well, scheduling has been difficult," Jim Knoll, the Superintendent for Edwardsburg Public Schools.

It all started last March when Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer closed schools down. 

"We don't get a lot of times we don't care a lot of the time. If you remember back in march, when we closed down last year, it was on a friday that we had to do it in a few days. And that happens? Yes. So there's not a lot of time sometimes," he said.

“I think the communication could have been a lot better between her and the schools because the schools are trying to communicate with all of us, but they don't even know what to say. So, yeah, it was, it was tough because you had no idea Friday at 3 o'clock that they were going to be open on Monday. And that's tough," Gardini said.

For Knoll, flexibility, and communication with parents have quickly become the two most important parts of his job.

"We try and give them as much information as we can. But it changes," he said. "Of course, our Governor who has a 12 o'clock press conference today, when she makes changes, or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services makes changes, you have to be flexible to accommodate those.”

And parents have to be more flexible too.

"Most parents, most students, are they know they have to be flexible right now. And that's the most difficult thing for them is the frustrating thing is trying to be reasonable during a very difficult time," Knoll said.

However, Knoll and the Gardini family do have faith things will get more consistent going forward.

“I mean secretly I think we're all hoping that this comes down for the kid's sake," Gardini said.

"So that people don't have to worry day to day having the vaccines and having a nice schedule so that we don't have to change everything every day would make a big difference for everyone," Knoll said.

Knoll said that although vaccines were supposed to be given to teachers starting this last Monday, Jan. 11th, the likelihood of actually receiving the vaccines before february is unlikely at least in Berrien County.

We will be doing a bigger vaccine story in February and if you have any concerns or questions regarding teachers or students receiving vaccines, email us at Learningcurve@abc57.com and we will bring those thoughts straight to county health officials and school staff.

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