You make excellent points, John. My one dispute is your dismissal of the mental health impacts on kids as an excuse by lazy/deficient parents. I saw first-hand how my kids struggled and they're teens old enough to articulate that malaise. I know how privileged we are--my kids have stable internet, their own devices, and private space for classes. But they missed the routine of school, their friends, and the predictability of their pre-pandemic world. I can only imagine how younger kids felt trying to adjust while lacking the vocabulary to identify their frustration/fear/anger.
We still hosted regular outdoor hangouts so my kids could see their friends but that wasn't enough. My otherwise cheerful kids were impacted by the stress, isolation, and uncertainty of waiting out a pandemic. That's the mindset they had while staring at a screen for many hours each day. They still managed to get their schoolwork done, but I know they struggled.
We did not send them back when public schools reopened in our area on a hybrid basis, but they are back now since both have been fully vaccinated. Already, I can see their moods and energy levels are far higher than they were anytime between March 2020 and August 2021.
Yes, there are increased risks going to school but now that my kids are fully vaccinated and their teachers presumably are, too, we feel school does provide immense stability.