The first day of school is usually filled with excitement. Even for parents of kids just heading into kindergarten, everything is so familiar - the backpacks, the lunches, and the smiles on the students. This year - everything is different for Central New York parents.

To my fellow Moms and Dads,

We can all agree on this: 2020 is not the year we were hoping for. This back-to-school experience is not the one we imagine when we're thinking about first-day-of-school photos. It sucks.

I am struggling with choices for my son, who's heading into his junior year in high school. Do we send him for hybrid instruction? Do we keep him home for virtual lessons? Do we trade social interaction for a bubble of relative safety? I know many of you are struggling with those same decisions.

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I want you to know something: whatever decision you make for your child is the right decision. Period. Everyone has an opinion on what's right - but you know your kid, and your family. You can't make a 'wrong' decision here. Everything about this year is all wrong - you can only be right.

The most important lesson our children learn this year isn't going to come from a classroom - in-person or online. The most important lesson is going to come from you, and how we teach our kids to handle things that don't go at all the way they planned. They will learn to be resilient, creative, and adaptable. The best thing kids can take away from this is the confidence that they can do hard things.

We can all do hard things. We're doing them right now.

Twenty years from now, our kids aren't going to tell their kids they walked uphill both ways to school - they'll tell them how they survived, and thrived in the year of the pandemic.

All of this is just to say 'you got this.' Trust your gut, love your kids, and we'll get through this together.