Editor’s note: As we wrap up our look at how local families are coping with COVID-19, five parents share a wide range of emotions as they prepare for the first day of school. The last leg of “A COVID summer” will be presented in three parts.
As she relocated to Farmington Hills from Denver in the summer of 2019, communications consultant Maya Geryk sought a familiar place to set down new roots.
Her children Zofia Packard (entering 9th grade at North Farmington High School) and Renata Packard (entering 7th grade at Warner Middle School) were just starting to make connections at school when the COVID-19 pandemic got in the way.
“My kids initially felt that a hybrid approach was better than all virtual, but as the school year drew closer and the news of the virus spreading got more intense, they each asked to do the virtual learning path,” Geryk said. “At first I wasn’t happy with that idea because they would have to switch teachers at some point, but I didn’t want to push them into a situation where they felt unsafe. As a parent that’s the last thing I want to do.”
While she appreciates the Farmington Public Schools decision to start the year online, Geryk sees challenges ahead. Her children don’t need much supervision, but she recalls managing their anxiety in the spring around technology and assignments
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see that again,” she said.
Geryk looks to her own mother, who didn’t have a school to attend until she was 10 years old, for reassurance and inspiration.
“My mom was born in 1937 in Warsaw, Poland, just a couple years before Hitler invaded,” she said. “She went on to get a college degree, two master’s degrees and a Ph.D., the last two of which were not in her first language.”
From that success story, Geryk takes a lesson of strength in adversity.
“It wasn’t an ideal way to grow up, but my mother made it out okay,” she reflected. “I don’t think this is an ideal situation, but we do the best with what we’ve got. I feel grief about what my daughters are missing out on, but I hope they’ll come out the other end with more resilience.”