PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Kelly Tilden, whose son is a sophomore at Franklin High School, said her family is grappling with whether to send him to live with his grandmother in Pennsylvania for the rest of the school year so he can attend class and play sports.
She said the past 10 months has been harsh for everyone in the family, including her 6th-grader son who attends Sunnyside Environmental. But she said she was excited when she heard Gov. Kate Brown’s announcement that teachers would be prioritized over seniors for the COVID vaccine.
“My mother was a public high school teacher for 30-some years and I value education and the role of educators and the need for the safety net of schools,” Tilden told KOIN 6 News. “But then to hear Elizabeth Thiel at the PAT say that that doesn’t mean they will return to school was very frustrating as a parent, especially since the science and data shows that schools can be re-open safely.”
Online learning has been frustrating, she said.
“The purpose for school at this age is so much for social opportunities and to learn by trial-and-error, those social interactions. All that’s been stripped away.”
She said her teenage son is excited about the opportunity to be in class and play sports if he goes to live with his grandmother “even though it’d be a completely strange world.”
Her 73-year-old mother is retired and thinks teachers should get vaccinated — if they’re really going back into class. “If they’re not going to return to class, then I’m not sure the priority should be there,” Tilden said.
Franklin High recently started sports conditioning on the football field once or twice a week, she said.
“But it’s shocking how few of his teammates have shown up. Kids who loved basketball but they’re so disconnected and withdrawn,” she said. “They’re not showing up in class. They’re not showing up for basketball.”
She said she and her husband Tom will decide this week whether to send her son to Pennsylvania. One of the concerns is how it will affect their younger son.
“They’re very tight, they’re very close and during this period of isolation they’ve been there for each other. So that’s what’s hard,” she said.
But the decision is weighing on both parents.
“My husband Tom and I are anxious that’s not what’s best for us but maybe what’s best for him.”