Welcome to the Class of COVID: Students heading back to school this fall are members of a club they never wanted to join

Back-to-school coverage is in a league of its own this year. Yahoo Life's take is a series of stories and videos, "Class of COVID." (GIF: Yahoo Life)
Back-to-school coverage is in a league of its own this year. Yahoo Life's series of stories and videos, "Class of COVID." (GIF: Yahoo Life)

Class of COVID is Yahoo Life’s take on going back to school in 2020 — a wholly unprecedented experience for all involved — through a series of stories and videos that will roll out now through the fall.

The back-to-school season has always signified something much deeper than trips to Target for backpacks and binders, or meet-and-greets with new teachers. There’s a sense of rebirth and renewed purpose, of optimism and opportunity. But this year, that’s largely been clouded by foreboding and uncertainty, as a pandemic credited with more than 5 million cases and 167,000 deaths in the United States wages on, and teachers, parents and students confront the nagging fear that opening up classrooms could cost lives.

And so school districts nationwide wrestle with whether to resume in-person classes (and consider how to mitigate risks), stick to virtual classes (and consider how to make that accessible to all) or offer some sort of hybrid learning model (and consider what exactly that looks like, logistically). Meanwhile, teachers are posting mock obituaries and drafting wills in anticipation of their health being compromised by heading back to work; earlier this month, college students in Georgia also staged a die-in protest, demanding more safety precautions ahead of their campus’s reopening.

For parents, there are no easy answers. Do they add face masks and hand sanitizer to their back-to-school shopping lists and hope for the best? Do they follow the lead of CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta and decide to keep their kids home out of an abundance of caution? Do they form homeschooling pods with other families? Do they put careers on hold to take over at-home teaching? Do they even have the financial resources or technological access necessary to explore any of those alternatives? And what’s to stop kids from being lost in the shuffle?

The situation has also become a political minefield. President Donald Trump has repeatedly pushed for schools to reopen, though he has conceded that those in COVID-19 hot spots may require a delayed start. And according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in July, more than 55 percent of Americans felt it was too soon to reopen schools, thought Democrats (75 percent) were significantly more likely than their Republican counterparts (32 percent) to have that view.

As some students head off to classrooms in face shields, and others simply log on from the comfort of the kitchen table, Yahoo Life is introducing the Class of COVID, a series of features digging deep into the myriad issues, anxieties and underrepresented voices at play.

In these stories and videos, expect to get first-person accounts from the students, educators and parents directly impacted by this educational turmoil, as well as those of school staffers, including bus drivers and substitutes, who have been largely overlooked in the chaos.

Health experts will be demystifying the latest data, in addition to offering resources for keeping kids safe and parents calm in this new normal. You’ll also find advice on homeschooling and setting up pods, a look at how the coronavirus is disrupting college campuses, a breakdown of what’s happening at schools across the country and more.

From pre-K to post-grad, Class of COVID has the conversation covered, in hopes of offering a bit more clarity to these uncertain, untenable times.

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.

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