Like many working parents with school-age kids, Melissa Meyer and her family are just trying to make this year work.
"The three words that come to mind are tough, challenging and frustrating," said Meyer.
She has a third grader, a seventh-grader and a fifth-grader with special needs. It did not take long to realize remote learning is far from ideal.
"Finding space for everyone has been frustrating, finding quiet has been frustrating," she said. "Going back to school and having that socialization has been so imperative for all of my kids, to be honest."
The return to in-person learning is about to pause after the November 12 update to the Maricopa County schools dashboard. The Paradise Valley Unified School District informed families that all students will return to distance learning on November 23.
Virtual instruction schedules this time around have also been adjusted, with less formal instruction for elementary students and condensed classes at the secondary level. The district attributes the change to concerns over too much screen time.
"What do you do? Do you quit your job? Well then what?" said Meyer. "Do you send them to private school, sure how do you send three kids to a private school?"
Paradise Valley Superintendent Dr. Jesse Welsh says the district is doing all it can to meet the community's needs while prioritizing public health.
"We hit our board adopted trigger for a return back to online learning," Welsh said. "We really want to be back in person, but we also want to make sure it’s safe."
Welsh says the district did consider a school-by-school approach but says conversations with medical experts lead them to return the entire district to virtual learning.
"It was identified that when you get to a certain level of community spread, even with mitigation efforts in place, it really just becomes unsafe for people to be out in long contact with others," said Welsh.
Similar conversations and scenarios are happening in districts across the state. As families, teachers and school leaders try to find some clarity amid the unknown.
"I think people are, they’re tired, they’re defeated, they feel like there’s no end in sight," said Meyer.