Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts- School Starting Back Edition

Preface: I have a lot of very disorganized thoughts about schools restarting, and I'm using this as an outlet. These are my thoughts and my thoughts alone; they don't represent my husband's, my colleagues', my principal's, my students', my district's, etc... Mine.  

1. This week has been... a lot. Much of it was anticipating my school district's decision about going back to work, and trying to at least partially ignore everyone's opinionated chatter leading up to it. Last night they voted on a hybrid model- high school kids go to school for two days a week in a block schedule, teachers will attend all five. My own child is in a different district, and they're anticipating a full-time return, which is helpful logistics-wise, but I just hope they can keep everyone safe. It's a lot, on all fronts. I'm concerned about how much work the hybrid model will be, I'm concerned about my son starting first grade at a new school under these conditions, I'm concerned about the logistics in terms of getting everyone where the need to be, I'm concerned about staying safe- the list goes on and on. So, to some sum it up, this will, without a doubt, be the roughest first semester back EVER. 

2. I am also extremely tired of the divisiveness within our profession. I will keep saying this every single week, or even every post, but I HAVE NO PATIENCE for people who are not empathetic to those who are scared to go back to work. It doesn't mean they're lazy, they don't deserve to be teachers, and that they are not passionate. It means they might be older, they might have health concerns or they might have someone vulnerable living with them. We work in a notoriously germy environment, more so than most professions, and it is 110% okay if people are concerned about that. It's also totally okay to want to go back and teach kids! But people need to be respectful, kind, and set a good example. 

3. Also: I am extremely conflicted and every single option is bad. 

4. What happens if I need a sub? They're going to have a stranger come on campus who might not be knowledgeable about safety protocols? And then I lose the ONE day I have with a certain cohort of students a week? I see each student for two hours a week, as opposed to the normal like 4 hours and forty minutes? And that is then gone because I have to get a toothache checked out or something?

5. What happens when a student in my class tests positive? Or a teacher in the building in which I share a bathroom? Will I have to use my sick time if I get it? But, also, how can we really prove we are contracting Covid19 at work? What happens when rumors start flying that so-and-so has it? Or that the schools are shutting down again? We will be going to work every single day in a constant state of uncertainty. The union and district have negotiated terms, which we will see next week. I'm hearing good things, but clearly this means something differently to everyone. 

6. If we had chosen a totally virtual option, the kids don't learn, they're not all being taken care of properly at home, it's hard for teachers to conduct class remotely, and we are all deprived of social interactions (teachers and students... we are at the four months mark, which is a lot). The act of sending kids to school is incredibly important for society- taking that away has been symbolically devastating and disheartening. We can't keep this up indefinitely, since our country has messed up.  I want so badly to believe a vaccine is six months out, but who really knows? Plus we can't give it to kids, so there's that. 

7. I am a girl of science and statistics, and they're technically on the side of kids. Are there outliers? Yes! There are ALWAYS outliers. The numbers provide me comfort, but what about my students, who are practically grown ups? And what about the actual adults? 

8. Things are going to look so weird... plexiglass dividers, masks, plexiglass teaching screens... It's all done for a good cause, and I'm fine with that. Is that a little bit sad for me, in terms of a parent? Yes! But, kids are resilient and this isn't going to be the way it is for eternity. 

9. The curve has not flattened- people are not dying as much as the used to, at least in some places, but that does not represent the curve. The curve is based off of new cases, which are skyrocketing everywhere. There is so much misinformation and people do frightening things with it. This virus was getting better and then America decided to really and truly prove how entitled, stubborn, and stupid they are. I'm talking about the people who complained about masks, the ones that go to crowded restaurants and bars, the ones partying at rivers and lakes over holiday weekends, etc... You can't have it both way. 

10. I get to wear my dresses again and do my makeup everyday. I'll also get to see some of my good friends, if even from a distance. I'll get to leave the house five days a week and feel like I have a strong sense of purpose. These are things to look forward to. 

11. Teachers are childcare providers, at the end of the day. We are highly-educated, highly-trained, and highly-stressed. I don't know how we can expect families with two working parents to function on the hybrid model. Also, what about teachers who have kids in other districts who are also doing that? People will simply not have child care, not have the money for childcare, etc... 

12. So, what can I do? I can sit around and freak out, or I can make a plan. Things I can do right now to make going back as positive, safe, and organized as possible:

- Get us as healthy as possible (sleep, exercise, vitamins, etc...)
- Work with my son to wear his mask properly, wash his hands, etc... 
- Keep taking Sawyer to parks and places where we have to practice social distancing 
- Make sure we have plenty of masks
- Deal with a plan for childcare before and after school 
- Start prepping lessons for the first month back so that I'm reading with content and can worry about other things
- Keep getting to know my incoming students on outline platform so that they feel comfortable and ready to be in my class with me (student buy in!)
- Familiarize myself with the changes to the IB curriculum I teach so I can alleviate that stress when I go back
- Think about systems in my class to keep things hygienic- no-touch ways to pass/collect papers, no stapler usage (paperclips, names on all papers, etc...), reviewing the need to wear masks, no nose blowing inside, etc... 

1 comment:

  1. "Every single option is bad" basically sums it all up. I'm in NY and our numbers are actually still good (for now), and we don't normally start school til after Labor Day, so the final decisions haven't been made yet (they are coming soon, though). I'm fairly certain I'm not going to like any of our public school options. I could homeschool my son's kindergarten year (not remote/virtual learning, I know those are two very different things), but I feel guilty because I know that what is an "easy" fix for us is not easy or even possible (or desirable) for so many families. I work part-time from home whether there is a pandemic or not, and there's nothing "easy" about working from home with 2 kids to take care of, but there is a lot more flexibility than in many other fields/situations. I am really feeling for all the teachers right now facing so much uncertainty.