Washington parents dealing with tough choices when it comes to education

Parents all across western Washington are dealing with some really tough choices right now when it comes to educating their kids. Some even debating quitting their jobs so they can help with online learning.

Holly Concini has a 1st and 3rd grader in Arlington Public Schools. While the district has been working to provide updates and resources to families, she says she is still worried that she will either have to quit her job or pay someone a minimum of $2,000 a month in tutoring or childcare to ensure her kids are getting an education. Her husband, Frank is deployed in the Navy right now, so Holly is working full time with two young kids. Her stress, like many other parents in the state, is palpable. 

“We’re panicked ... I’m panicked," she said. "Trying to navigate a plan when we don’t have one right now has been stressful. Like it has been something that has been on my mind every single day when I wake up, you know what are we gonna do? Do I need to leave my job?”

Holly says where she lives in Arlington, internet access is really hard to come by. She says while she is able to work from home, she works in the healthcare sector and takes patient calls. She says while she is doing this very important work, no one can be on any devices as she will get booted from her calls. she says the kids missed roughly 70% of their zoom meetings in the spring because of the issue and she is worried her kids are going to fall behind. 

Holly says she has reached out to the schools about getting a WiFi hot-spot. She says the district identified students who needed them but she is still waiting to find out if they are on that list. 

In Lake Stevens, meanwhile, more questions there for T.J. and Brittany Bayley. They are like a lot of families right now scrambling to figure out work, childcare and online learning. The couple has three daughters. One is going into 7th grade, one into kindergarten and their youngest is in preschool. Both parents work during the week, and T.J. had to take a 5% pay cut in his health sector job because of the pandemic. With the pay cut and both of them working, they say they will have to pay an extra $1,000 a month and they, like many families, have no idea how they are going to do it all. 

"There's no doubt about it. It's going to be a complete nightmare for us. Trying to homeschool your kids and work full time is really hard."

Brittany says, "The thought of coming home from work and then having to do homework that I don't understand, that I have to learn through Google and ask Alexa ... at the end of the day, yeah. It makes me want to cry."

The Bayleys say they have applied for a learning program that is being held at an elementary school in the district. It is first come first serve and they are currently waiting to hear back. If they cannot get her into the program, Brittany says they will likely just keep their youngest out of preschool this year. Brittany says it is really sad because she has been looking forward to school. 

The Bayleys say they love their daughters' schools but they do hope the district will consider in-person learning after the semester.