By Drea Braxmeier, Vice President

When a typical back-to-school season kicks off, I’m often reminded of the Staples commercial from the ’90s — the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. But this year is anything but typical. It is one filled with confusion, dread, fear, and plenty of unknowns. As a mom of two young boys and a member of the DKC Health Team, I knew all too well the challenges that we would face.

In the early days of the pandemic, I saw the devastation through the eyes of our client NYU Langone Health in NYC. As hospitals were overwhelmed, the fear of the disease ratcheted up. But I also saw the sadness and loneliness in my preschooler and toddler, who were abruptly torn away from their friends and routines to be plopped in front of a television while Mom and Dad struggled to work. Then as weeks passed, the positive research and survivor stories from NYU began to dominate. And we started hearing from our doctors at both NYU and WebMD about the importance of mental health care — for not only adults, but also for kids.

When my older son’s preschool reopened at the beginning of July, our family took a leap of faith to send him back in the first wave of students. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous and conflicted. However, we felt that his school was taking the strictest of precautions — with plenty of outdoor play, masks for teachers and students, constant handwashing, individual materials and more. For his peace of mind and ours, we felt sending him back was the best decision for our family.

Being a parent means making hard decisions for your kids and your family — and this is one of the most personal and difficult every family will encounter over the coming weeks and months. Next week, my younger son will join his big brother at preschool. I am extremely lucky to have clients who gave me the confidence in this decision. And I will be forever grateful to my kids’ teachers — after our many weeks of “forced family bonding,” I know they are truly superstars.

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