August 24, 2021

The kids have had 4 days of school.

As of this moment, Annabel and Cameron both quarantined already (one case in each class) and stuck at home for varying amounts of time. They do have Zoom/virtual school, though I am not sure what the time frame is.

(While the CDC technically does not consider a masked school contact a true contact apparently their school does.)

((I am not sure if the local public schools are doing quarantines like this; however, I have heard they are not offering any virtual school option when kid are out.))

(((I do not think they will require quarantines in vaccinated exposed children, so — as previously — I truly cannot wait for those vaccines!)))

I figured this would happen but thought we’d have like, at least one week of school first.

They did lift their sibling policy, so I guess G will go to school by herself. I am having flashbacks to 2020 and they are not pretty.

So much for my productive catchup day.

I know. Gratitude (for health, for childcare). Perspective (this will pass. It’s not a big deal, in in the grand scheme off things). But also: #($*@(#@#.

One bright spot from yesterday: BLP was mentioned on Monday’s ep of Forever 35! Kate did not share my specific planner recs, but shared the show in general. A reader alerted me and I nearly fell off my chair. So, that was fun.

But also: #(@#&#*%)(#$.

I couldn’t even bring myself to get up early today, because a) my legs are super are from yesterday’s SC workout b) I was tired (? covid ? probably not, but who knows) and c) I’m too annoyed at life.

Back tomorrow with hopefully better coping skills.

Addendum: I wrote a (calm) email to the school asking about the quarantine policy and received a very reasonable response that they are in the process of re-evaluating now, including looking at what other area schools are doing. So there is hope in that regard. I do feel the slightest bit better having learned that.


  • Reply Kara Duffin August 24, 2021 at 6:56 am

    Not an eloquent comment, but it’s getting harder to find the words. xo

  • Reply Laura August 24, 2021 at 6:57 am

    Oh my goodness – I am so sorry.

  • Reply Chelsea August 24, 2021 at 7:19 am

    I’m so sorry. A good friend of mind just had a breakthrough infection. Her son is at the same school and in the same grade (but not class) as my oldest. Despite the vaccines and masks (on our part), I’ve accepted we’re about to get it. It’s not if but when and how bad…

  • Reply Grateful Kae August 24, 2021 at 7:27 am

    Oh no! Our boys don’t go back until tomorrow, but their school isn’t planning to quarantine the whole class any time there is a positive case. Like you said, the guidelines currently say it’s not a close contact if everyone is masked (which they will be) and other precautions have been taken. So I’m cautiously optimistic that we won’t be facing constant quarantines or anything! Fingers crossed, because I literally can’t imagine going back to flip flopping between virtual school and all of that again…(shudder)… Sorry you’re dealing with that!

  • Reply Elisabeth August 24, 2021 at 7:46 am

    Well that sucks…ugh.

  • Reply Gillian August 24, 2021 at 7:46 am

    So difficult! Come on vaccines for kids!!! I truly cannot wait to get my younger kiddos vaccinated and I know you feel the same way.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 24, 2021 at 8:21 am

      TRULY can’t wait.

  • Reply Stephanie August 24, 2021 at 7:47 am

    Ughhhhh my kiddos don’t start until Sept 9 but I’m dreading this possibility. The uncertainty of it all is the biggest stressor. So sorry you are dealing with this.

  • Reply Gillian August 24, 2021 at 7:47 am

    Also, a HUGE thank you for being vocally pro-vaccine on BoBW!

  • Reply Sara August 24, 2021 at 8:50 am

    Oh, wow. I am so sorry 😐 We just started school yesterday in Fairfax County, VA and while I *think* they have some very good policies in place (yay for requiring teacher vaccinations + masks for everyone!), I’m not very optimistic this year will go well.


  • Reply Amanda August 24, 2021 at 9:10 am

    and d) the weather is so muggy that you sweat as soon as you step outside.

  • Reply Beth August 24, 2021 at 9:14 am

    I’m so sorry. But just listened to the first 10 minutes of Best of Both Worlds and wanted to thank you and Laura for being so pro-vaccine and stating that you’ll have your kids vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. I can’t wait to get mine (7, 7, 3) vaccinated!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 24, 2021 at 9:15 am

      Thank you! Just sharing our true feelings on that one!!

  • Reply Katie August 24, 2021 at 9:23 am

    I see other comments above to this effect too – I haven’t even finished the episode yet but wanted to say a huge thank you to you and Laura for using your platform to encourage vaccines. I liked that you reminded people it’s ok to reevaluate precious positions, and hopefully the full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine will also help in this regard. I so wish I could get my 4 year old vaccinated!!

    And I’m sorry to hear about the quarantine already. How frustrating! I’m sure it’s in our future too. Every day feels like a horrible day of roulette. Every mom I know is doing a daily calculation. Do we pull kids from school and blow up our lives? Would it even keep them safer? It’s so hard. All the best to your family.

  • Reply Omdg August 24, 2021 at 9:28 am

    What if vaccines aren’t ever approved in <12y? It’s not impossible.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 24, 2021 at 9:37 am

      I guess I’d just be sad!

    • Reply Jennifer Robertson August 24, 2021 at 10:30 pm

      They will be

      • Reply omdg August 26, 2021 at 10:33 am

        Hope so!

  • Reply CBS August 24, 2021 at 9:29 am

    Oh no!! 4 days…that’s terrible. It seems like school isn’t a major vector of transmission but rates are so high, kids are bound to get it from somewhere?

  • Reply Anon August 24, 2021 at 10:01 am

    Our school board took our county’s elementary mask mandate and added a place for a parental waiver on the medical exemption form. Last year, we had 9 medical mask exemptions. This year the number of exemptions is up 4000%. That is not a typo – parents are exempting their kids at alarming rates. There are no other mitigations, no plans for virtual (our legislature severely restricted it).

    TWO DAYS into school my child became symptomatic; luckily after testing they are negative for Covid and strep – it is just a cold. We are withdrawing; back to a 100% virtual K-12 we go! 😔

    I have never commented, but I am a long-time reader. Count me among the number who have been glad to read your words and the respectful dialogue of the commenters through this pandemic and long before! ❤️

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 24, 2021 at 10:05 am

      wow 4000% – that is shocking. Hoping things will change soon. This is so hard on all parents + kids.

      • Reply Cassie August 24, 2021 at 10:39 am

        I read an interesting article the other day about how young children’s IQ ‘s are dropping since caregivers/teachers began wearing face masks. This is due to the child being unable to see facial expressions/cues and not being able to see mouth movements when speaking ☹️

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 24, 2021 at 10:44 am

          Could it also be due to kids not going to school? I’d be interested in seeing the study details and specifics, if you can provide them.
          I think kids going to school in masks far outweighs not going to school (and not wearing masks).

          • Erin August 24, 2021 at 11:39 am

            I’m not sure if this is the same study but it was covered by a lot of news outlets: It is a preprint (currently undergoing peer-review) focused on children born during the pandemic.

            Excerpt from news link below (not the preprint): “In a longitudinal study of 672 children from Rhode Island that has run since 2011, those born after the pandemic began showed results on the Mullen scales of early learning that corresponded to an average IQ score of 78, a drop of 22 points from the average of previous cohorts.”

            Another news article on this study: “The biggest reason behind the falling scores is likely the lack of stimulation and interaction at home, said Deoni. “Parents are stressed and frazzled … that interaction the child would normally get has decreased substantially.”

            There is a comment section on the preprint website where the authors note “I’m not sure how to rule it out since we can’t yet run the control comparison without masks. One thing, though, is that we don’t see a decline in older children, which we might expect if the masks prevented them from being able to understand questions or instructions. But, admittedly, the number of older kiddos we’ve followed from before the pandemic into the pandemic is small (n=39) so I don’t know how much confidence we can put into that finding.”

          • Erin August 24, 2021 at 11:42 am

            Ugh, the internet ate my initial reply so here is a shorter version.

            There is a study that has been frequently cited in the news lately about children born during the pandemic but I’m not sure if its the same as the other study (there’s SO many preprints focused on covid!). This is a preprint (currently undergoing peer review):

            The authors do say in the comments for the preprint: “I’m not sure how to rule it out since we can’t yet run the control comparison without masks. One thing, though, is that we don’t see a decline in older children, which we might expect if the masks prevented them from being able to understand questions or instructions. But, admittedly, the number of older kiddos we’ve followed from before the pandemic into the pandemic is small (n=39) so I don’t know how much confidence we can put into that finding.”

            Since the first reports of novel coronavirus in the 2020, public health organizations have advocated preventative policies to limit virus, including stay-at-home orders that closed businesses, daycares, schools, playgrounds, and limited child learning and typical activities. Fear of infection and possible employment loss has placed stress on parents; while parents who could work from home faced challenges in both working and providing full-time attentive childcare. For pregnant individuals, fear of attending prenatal visits also increased maternal stress, anxiety, and depression. Not surprising, there has been concern over how these factors, as well as missed educational opportunities and reduced interaction, stimulation, and creative play with other children might impact child neurodevelopment. Leveraging a large on-going longitudinal study of child neurodevelopment, we examined general childhood cognitive scores in 2020 and 2021 vs. the preceding decade, 2011-2019. We find that children born during the pandemic have significantly reduced verbal, motor, and overall cognitive performance compared to children born pre-pandemic. Moreover, we find that males and children in lower socioeconomic families have been most affected. Results highlight that even in the absence of direct SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 illness, the environmental changes associated COVID-19 pandemic is significantly and negatively affecting infant and child development.

          • Erin August 24, 2021 at 11:43 am

            To clarify, the authors comment is in response to someone asking if masks were a factor.

          • Erin August 24, 2021 at 12:28 pm

            Ha. My original post was finally posted. Apologies Sarah and everyone else for apparently spamming the comment section with this research article.

          • Sarah Hart-Unger August 24, 2021 at 12:53 pm

            It’s the spam filter! It loves to auto block links and I have to manually unblock them!

        • Reply Amanda August 24, 2021 at 11:25 am

          I’m not sure how anyone could properly study, let alone form a conclusion about, a longitudinal measure like IQ in the short time we’ve been in the pandemic. Seems pretty dubious. I’d imagine parents are still giving their kids lots of face to face interaction, even if the limited waking time they spend in childcare/school is masked.

          • Katie August 25, 2021 at 3:18 pm

            Yeah, I’m a school psychologist who does cognitive (IQ) testing with kids and this seems super questionable to me. We also know that cognitive measures in super young (pre-K age) kids are not particularly reliable unless you’re trying to do something like rule in/out an intellectual disability. Anecdotally, my colleagues and I continued to assess kids all 2020-2021 school year while wearing masks, and although we do have concerns about the validity of testing with masks (and we put a huuuuge “COVID caveat” statement in our reports), I haven’t personally seen any change in ‘average IQ’ of kiddos I test. I do think it’s far too early to tell what myriad effects the pandemic has had on our children; certainly I’m sure there have been many negative effects. But I’m a huge advocate for masking in schools because we know that it keeps schools open and allows our kids to continue to learn in-person – and that’s incredibly important.

        • Reply Amy August 26, 2021 at 8:19 pm

          And there is also data demonstrating a significant drop in IQ after COVID infection (even asymptomatic).

    • Reply Ali August 24, 2021 at 12:13 pm

      Ugh, this sounds like my county. My kids are wearing masks and definitely in the minority as all it takes is a form to say you are opting out of the “requirement.”

      Our county health department and schools are also no longer tracking exposures and requiring quarantines, so I am just counting down the days until my kids get it. Homeschooling isn’t an option for us, and it is all beyond frustrating as a parent. Oh, and our state no longer counts virtual days as school days so going online due to high illness levels isn’t possible…so already several schools are just closed with no online option. Grrrr.

      All that said, I’m sorry you guys were hit with a quarantine so early. Hopefully you will have better luck after this!!

  • Reply Amy F August 24, 2021 at 10:32 am

    That really sucks, and I hate that we as a society are in this place. My current coping mechanism is reminding myself that current problems will resolve, and I actively think about how I’ll feel when the current problem is resolved. (Relieved that it’s resolved; proud that I worked through the hard thing; grateful that I learned new skills; etc)

    And some unsolicited advice from a mom who’s further down the parenting road (my kiddos are in high school): take a mini solo vacation and worry about no one and no thing other than yourself for 24 (36? 48?) hours. Line up extra child care over a weekend and book a beautiful hotel room. Do something that recharges you (playing with planners? binge watching Ted Lasso? test out an assortment of new pens? enjoy a glass of wine while you watch a beautiful sunset?) and leave the details of play dates, grocery shopping, ratio of fiber intake to poop schedules, toddler tantrums, etc. to someone else. Resist the urge to catch up on work and “be productive”. You’ll come home with more emotional and mental “margin” to deal with whatever life throws at you.

  • Reply Connie C August 24, 2021 at 10:37 am


  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns August 24, 2021 at 10:56 am

    Ugh, I am so sorry, Sarah. That really really sucks. From our experience last fall at daycare, when community rates/transmission are high, you can just count on quarantines at school. Things were terrible last fall here and we quarantined twice, and narrowly avoided a 3rd quarantine since we pulled our son early in preparation for my c-section. But then we didn’t have another quarantine as rates really dropped off when there were more strict rules about not socializing with others outside your family/the vaccines were rolled out at the start of the year. It’s really hard to stay positive when you are dealing with this at the start of the school year. I hope the school will re-consider their policy since everyone is masking. Our daycare doesn’t require masking so if there is a positive case, the whole class quarantines. So I am bracing myself for some gaps in daycare if cases rise in Minneapolis. So far things are not bad and something like 95%+ parents are vaccinated so I feel like that may help? I know vaccinated individuals can transmit, but it seems like the more who are vaccinated, the less likely an outbreak is? Granted, those families probably have kids going to school in September. But masks are required here so hopefully things don’t get too bad? I’m clearly doing a lot of mental gymnastics to convince myself it won’t be bad. 😉

    I am optimistic about vaccines for those under 12, though. Obviously that is not my area of expertise but it seems like a lot of effort is being put into getting vaccines approved for that population. otherwise it seems like this virus will just continue to spread. From what I’ve read, the first round will go down to 5 and older so it seems a ways off for my kids. But I’m continuing to hope for a vaccine in the next 4-6 months? But yes, thank you for being so vaccine positive on BOBW this morning.

    But yay for a shout out from such a prominent podcast! That should really impact your downloads! I was googling the W222 to get ideas about how to use it/what pens will work best and your blog posts about using that planner come up! I’m really excited to start to use my planner in November, hence all the googling and youtube video watching I did during some downtime (also more calming that reading the news!).

  • Reply Elizabeth August 24, 2021 at 11:19 am

    Good for you for sending the (calm) email to the school! They say action is the antidote to anxiety and it’s great that you’ve learned they are reevaluating their policies. I hope this brings you a small measure of peace!

    Hugs from me too.

  • Reply Anne August 24, 2021 at 12:11 pm

    Oh Sarah. I am so sorry. I will reiterate the thanks for being pro-vaccine and pro-mask. We are in Michigan where things have been okay-ish so far, but my second grader just started school yesterday and who knows where things will go from here. We’ll see. Sending healthy vibes to your family and hoping future weeks of school are significantly less eventful!

  • Reply Brooke August 24, 2021 at 1:45 pm

    Oh, that’s so unfortunate. This is going to be another hard year. My son is vaccinated and is in HS. His school requires vaccines for students and staff but the issue of fake vaccine cards is a real concern, especially among HS students. I don’t know what the penalty will be for submitting a fake vaccine card.

  • Reply Courtney August 24, 2021 at 7:47 pm

    I feel your pain. My son started school on Aug 9 and we are in our second 10-day modified quarantine already! Since everyone is masked they are allowed to attend school, but not extracurricular activities including after school care which makes things challenging. The school is also offering on-site testing for those expossed twice a week, if parents agree to the testing. But I think if there are three positive cases in a single classroom, the whole classroom goes to distance learning for two weeks. So far I think this is a pretty good strategy, but we’ll see how cases go. Like I said, we’ve already had two exposures in two weeks. I do feel like as a community, if we want to keep our kids in school we all need to rethink our exposure and think about dialing back activities.

  • Reply Erica Sparkeh August 24, 2021 at 8:15 pm

    Ugh. I’m sorry – we’ve only had one exposure so far from daycare (and thankfully we all tested negative). Those 4 days of isolation really took me back to 2020.
    Our school district is great and has some awesome if/then scenarios for families to use, and I believe masks are factored into exposures.
    I too, loved the intro to BOBW this week with the mask and vaccine positivity!!

  • Reply Emma August 24, 2021 at 11:42 pm

    Right there with you…my daughter started on the 11th and her class went into quarantine/virtual school on the 17th. My son’s daycare was closed for the first week of August following a positive case, and obviously I did not appreciate that one week of the month they were both in school/childcare enough!

  • Reply Dee August 25, 2021 at 7:13 am

    This study may be of interest to parents. In a nutshell: masks work.

  • Reply Irene August 25, 2021 at 7:18 am

    I am so sorry. Virtual school is terrible- I am actually hoping they will just have kids out when they need to isolate. It was awful when the kids were half home and the teachers were teaching into a laptop. I am really struggling with how to support my kids as we head into an another uncertain school year with kids in two different schools with different rules and different exposures. Just, ugh.

  • Reply Jessica August 26, 2021 at 9:30 am

    Getting ready to send my kids to school and daycare for the first time since pre-pandemic, and since I am no longer allowed a WFH option (at all, no matter what), exposure quarantine policies are definitely on my mind! (Pretty sure if we have to stay home with any not-sick kids, my husband and I will be forced to use COVID FMLA…)

    I was surprised when my kid’s public school announced at a back to school meeting that they are not planning on mandatory quarantines for any student or staff close contacts – instead, they will offer daily rapid testing at school for at least 5 days for any close contacts.

    I just thought I’d share since I had NEVER heard of this kind of plan (although it seems it has been done in Utah?)

    His school is also requiring masks (yay!) Now we just have the preschooler’s various COVID policies to worry about?

  • Reply Leah Hockenberry September 22, 2021 at 9:50 am

    We lasted 6 days before our first quarantine, so I feel you.

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