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8/6/20blog post

Should I send my child to school or have my child participate in virtual (online) learning only?

Q&A with Dr. Alter

question: Should I send my child to school or have my child participate in virtual (online) learning only?


A:  Whether or not to send your child to the traditional classroom setting is a decision that only the parent or guardian can make. There is no single right or wrong answer because every situation is different. We’ve put together some of the questions your family should ask before making your decision. 

Child-specific questions: 

  • Does my child or anyone in the family have health issues that may increase their risk of getting critically sick? 
  • Is my child having changes in their social-behavior or emotional state from being isolated and not socializing with his/her friends? 
  • What is the best learning style and environment for my child? 
  • Does our family have the resources needed to do online learning – child care, computer and internet access?  
  • Does my child need additional help in school? 
  • Does my child have breakfast and lunch provided at school? 
  • How will my child get to school? 

School-specific questions: 

  • Does my child’s school have a COVID-19 plan and am I comfortable with the specifics of the plan? 
  • Will all staff and students be masked? 
  • Will hand washing/sanitizing be available and encouraged often? 
  • Is the school social distancing? 
  • What is the school’s plan for if a child gets sick? 
  • What is the school’s plan for reporting illness/calling in sick? 

Please remember no option is perfect. Parents are, understandably, caught in a little bit of a no-win situation. Each choice carries some degree of risk – in-person learning risks exposure to illness; online learning risks social/emotional/behavioral consequences. The only thing a parent can do is weigh each risk on the basis of their child’s individual needs. Again – there is no right answer so make the best decision for your family given the information you have. 

Need a few more resources to help make your decision?  

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advice on learning environment 

Public Health – Dayton and Montgomery County  

Ohio Department of Education 


Alter Sherman

Sherman Alter, MD

infectious disease
view full bio

updates on COVID-19

Please use our coronavirus information hub for resources and answers to frequently asked questions about Dayton Children's response to COVID-19. You can also call our COVID-19 parent hotline at 1-888-746-KIDS (5437) from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm for additional questions.