San Antonio families prepare for traditional school challenges

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After two years of irregular schooling, parents and children on a Saturday back-to-school campaign were eager to get back to old, familiar rituals: new backpacks, fresh crayons and new friends.

“You can see it in the children’s expressions,” said District 4 council member Adriana Rocha Garcia. they see their colors, or their markers, or whatever they get (and) when they can choose the color of their backpack. It’s just a nice feeling.

Garcia, together with a myriad of community partners, organized Saturday’s backpack and school supplies at Divine Providence Catholic Church.

Thomasina Escobar and her daughter Carina are optimistic about the upcoming school year and the reduced restrictions it brings. Carina was especially looking forward to spending more time away from home and with her classmates.

“It doesn’t seem restrictive,” Escobar said. “It’s a bit more, ‘Let’s go back to normal and just be kids and have fun and do their thing.'”

The specter of COVID-19 and monkeypox still hangs over some parents, despite their children’s eagerness to return fully to a social setting.

Cherie Burrows is nervous about sending her son to school, but still thinks the upcoming school year will be ‘normal’.

“There is cause for concern,” Burrows said. “I’m just confident the school is doing their part and keeping them clean and protecting them.”

Burrows said Aiden, who turns 6 this week, is looking forward to socializing with his classmates in person rather than through a screen.

Even with the turbulence of everyday life, few things are as overwhelming for some parents as their child’s first day of school. Manuel Chapa said that although it will be the second time he has done it, it is still an emotional moment, especially since he cherished having his children at home while learning online.

“The first time I cried,” Chapa said. “But I hope I don’t cry this year.”

Avoiding the stress that online learning puts on his work-life balance is always positive, Chapa said, even if he misses his kids.

“There were days when I had to take time off work to stay with her to do this e-learning,” Chapa said. “It didn’t help. It only made things worse. But luckily, we are going back to school; see your teachers face to face rather than on the computer. That’s all I wanted.

In addition to providing school supplies, Saturday’s event also provided COVID-19 vaccines and information on health awareness and food insecurity.

Garcia said consolidating many community needs could help address many issues families may have to put aside to meet basic needs. Providing necessary school supplies that some families cannot afford while taking the opportunity to discuss diabetes, heart disease or COVID-19 prevention has a ripple effect on underserved communities, said Councillor.

Garcia also believes the return of the “back to normal” school year and the resurgence of community supply campaigns are providing much-needed stability for struggling families.

“We know, especially during the summer, that our children sometimes run out of food,” Garcia said. “They go back to school, and that’s where they eat their meals for the first time, their breakfast and their lunch. Many of our children, unfortunately, even go without dinner.

Evan Johnson attended the event just to get his daughter Ruby vaccinated. He appreciated that the event combined back-to-school assistance with other community needs to help families with limited resources, easing the load in what can be a stressful time.

“You never know what kind of help people will need,” Johnson said.

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