Anxiety looms as parents prepare kids to go back to school

Samantha Taylor is getting her daughter, Billie, ready for second grade. It’s a big day for Billie. She hasn’t been inside a school for more than a year. 

It’s a big day for Samantha, too. 

"I’m really nervous about tomorrow. My stomach’s been in knots all weekend. I can’t sleep," Taylor said.

She has a 16-year-old and 13-year-old who are both vaccinated and go to private schools where masks are required. But, Billie is heading to Woodlands Elementary in Seminole County which is a public school. 

Masks are required but families can opt-out. It’s the most anxious Taylor says she’s ever felt before the start of a school year. 

"It feels like I am sending my daughter to the wolves. I put my career on hold for over a year to stay home with them. I am terrified that it was all in vain."

She says her daughter will be wearing a mask. She’s already talked to her teacher and her friends’ moms to ensure they’re all on the same page. 

But with Seminole Connect remote learning no longer available this year, she’s not sure what happens if there’s an outbreak at Billie’s school. 

RELATED: Central Florida parents concerned over no mask mandates at schools

"If I had a crystal ball, I would have sent my kids to school last year and kept them home this year, but two years in a row, you can’t. You can’t do that to kids. This is eating me up alive," Taylor said.

She says she tried to come up with other alternatives. 

"We did try to put my daughter at the private school where my middle son is because of the mask mandate, but they were full." 

She says the private schools filled up faster this year since parents knew they were requiring masks. 

But at public school, her daughter, Billie, will be wearing one anyway. 

"It makes me sick to my stomach that kids’ lives are being played with in this way."

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