A photo that speaks a thousand words.
Jana Coombs of Sharpsburg, Georgia captured a back-to-school photo of her 5-year-old son that has gone viral after depicting a new reality for school-aged children amid the pandemic.
In the photo taken on August 17, Ezra is seen sitting in front of a laptop crying on his first day of kindergarten.
After sharing it on Facebook that evening, the image resonated with many parents.
“It broke my heart,” Coombs told “Good Morning America.”
“After I took that photo I called him over, we sat on the ground, we hugged and cried together. I told him, ‘It’s OK. We will get through this.’ I gave him a lot of love and praise and we went back and worked together,” she explained.
Coombs said Ezra began his day at 8:15 am and the class was learning the letter A. She explained that the tears were a result of frustration as he felt he was falling behind during the e-learning lesson, according to the outlet.
Coombs wanted to make the photo public to share the hardships of distance learning for both parents and children.
“If we don’t speak up, nothing’s going to change,” she said. “It’s more than one-plus-one-equals-two. It’s also their mental health. They’re not face-to-face with teachers, socializing with other children, they’re stuck behind the screen.”
While many parents applauded her for sharing the image, there were some who weighed in with worries of sending their kids back to school amid a pandemic.
“Of course on the flip side there was controversy with sending your children to school and possibly contracting COVID,” Coombs said of the comments section on the photo. “That was the debate.”
Coombs is a mom of four. Her 9-year-old, who is in fourth grade, and her 7-year-old , who is in second grade, are also enrolled in virtual classes. She also has an 8-month-old.
In-person instruction was not offered in her county, but she said she looks forward to the day when children are allowed inside classrooms again.
“We will 100% send them,” she noted. “They want to go back. I respect my children’s opinion and their feelings on the situation. They miss their friends, they miss their teachers, they miss socialization.”
Many schools have opted for remote learning this semester despite the CDC strongly advising to reopen schools.
The guidelines noted that distance learning “can lead to severe learning loss, and the need for in-person instruction is particularly important for students with heightened behavioral needs.”
However, some schools that allowed in-person classes have been forced to shut down including a kindergarten in Mississippi that will be closed for a two-week period after several positive cases of COVID were detected.
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