COVID-19 has had a profound impact on all levels of education since March 2020, but recent developments indicate that reopening schools for the 2020-2021 academic year is an inevitability. ABC 7 Eyewitness News WABC reported that New York City schools will implement a hybrid system of in-person and remote learning, and many other districts are working on similar plans. As such, it seems that the key question is not IF students will go back, but what the school year will look like. Uncertainty surrounds the issue, as there have been some efforts to push off the start date currently set for September 10. Plus, as of August 10, 107 school districts have not submitted plans and cannot re-open unless they do so.
The unsettled nature of New York school reopenings is particularly concerning to divorced or unmarried parents who must address parenting plans. The only certainty is that there will be disruptions. Ultimately, you will need to make the right decisions for your family with the help of a New York child custody attorney. As a framework for assessing the issue, here are some questions parents should ask themselves about parenting plans amid school re-openings.
Can any parenting time features remain in place? If you already created an arrangement by working with New York parenting plan guidelines, you should review it first to determine what factors will not need to be changed. Families can often stick to details on the child’s primary residence and parenting time for after-school, weekends, and school breaks without interruption. Narrow things down to focus on what you expect will need adjustment.
Is one parent in a better position to support the child’s school arrangement? With the hybrid approach to online learning route combined with in-person instruction, you should assess whether one parent is in a better position to support the at-home side of the equation. For instance, a parent currently working remotely is better able to support the child’s education – and will likely have reliable internet service for connectivity.
How does safety impact parenting time? Where one parent has more contact with the public and therefore more risk of contracting COVID-19, safety could become an issue with your parenting plan. This is especially true if a member of the child’s household is in a high-risk group.
What arrangement best suits access to outdoor spaces? When New York schools reopen and children will be spending more time indoors, parents must address outdoor physical activities and ensure the child gets fresh air. At the same time, not all outdoor spaces are safe and allow for appropriate social distancing. If one parent is in a better location for exercise, be sure to include details in your parent plan.
What factors support the child’s best interests? As you consider your answers to the above questions, you should always keep New York’s best interests of the child standard in mind. It is the paramount factor related to care, needs, and support for your child – putting your own interests as parents second. Even with disruptions related to the school reopening schedule, the parenting plan must align with the child’s best interests.
A New York Child Custody Lawyer Can Assist with Parenting Plan Answers
As you consider your options about parenting plans and the uncertainty surrounding New York schools re-opening, it is important to work with a skilled attorney for legal advice. Our team at The Mandel Law Firm is prepared to guide you through the relevant issues and help you make the best decisions for your family. To set up a consultation with a member of our team, please call our Manhattan office at (646) 770-3868 or check us out online.