PLANO, Texas — The pandemic has us all making tough decisions. But parents with school-age children are facing the same series of tough questions every nine weeks as the first semester moves along.
Kaci Lahpor, like thousands of Texas parents, is being asked to decide in the next week if her children are going back to campus in January.
Many school districts have asked that parents indicate whether they want remote learning or in-person learning by November 30. Many districts are relying on this information early, so they can make the appropriate arrangements for resources and educators.
"[That is] a month and a half before they have to set foot on campus which is a little nerve-wracking," said Lahpor.
Lahpor's three children have done remote learning this first semester, but she has decided to let them return to campus in January. She told WFAA that she will keep a watchful eye on the number positive COVID-19 cases during the holidays.
"We've been pretty pleased seeing how low the numbers on three of our campuses," said Lahpor.
She said she's had conversations with school counselors and has a better understanding of the processes and protocols each school is following. That gives her the confidence to send her children back to campus.
"COVID is still going to be here. It's still going to be circulating, and it's going to be getting into the schools," said Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, who is the head of pediatric infectious disease at UT Southwestern.
He said every model shows it will get worse and surges are a certainty in the coming holiday months.
"Gatherings of 10 to 12 to 15 to 20 people... that's the perfect setting for the virus to spread because people are going to take their masks off and let their guard down because they think this is just my family member," said Kahn.
Brady Lahpor, 14, is in 9th grade at Vines High School. If he starts with in-person learning in January the transition back to remote learning won't be too hard. The family told WFAA that it's a good fall-back option.
Kaci Lahpor told WFAA that it also helps that Plano ISD has a hybrid schedule, which severely limits the number of children on a campus.
"I'm not afraid that I am going to get COVID from my friends, but it's definitely a concern," said Brady.
At Plano ISD, there have been 321 students and 132 staff who reportedly have tested positive for COVID-19. That's district-wide since August 12.
But the state picture on positive cases is more grim.
The number of students and staff testing positive from all Texas schools are at all time highs. According to Texas Health and Human Services, the cumulative number of positive student cases is 31,678 and positive staff cases is 18,742.
"We're all in this together, everybody wants this virus to stop," said Kahn.
We all are faced with tough decisions but Dr. Kahn said the easiest decisions we can make right now is to wear a mask, and that decision may have the biggest impact.