As a Mom. As a Teacher. As a Fan of Public Health Policy.

Monday-Wednesday of last week- things are getting progressively hairy with the coronavirus
Thursday evening- our school board meets, they decide to suspend, basically, all extracurricular activities
Friday at noon- school board meets again, decides to close schools until after spring break, which means three weeks out. Teachers are told they would have to work contractual hours to promote distance learning. My son's private kinder closes. It then reopens several hours later, although my husband and I had decided to keep him home
Saturday/Sunday- Countless emails fluctuating from "teachers don't come back at all" to "teachers come back on Monday" to "teachers can come back on Tuesday" (many of us needed materials)
Today, Tuesday, morning- teachers in my district are allowed to go back to work to gather belongings for three hours (yay! We get to talk to friends at a distance! It was like the weirdest, happiest reunion ever)
Today, Tuesday at noon- the county of Riverside declares that all schools must be closed until April 30
Today, Tuesday, late afternoon/early evening- the Governor California says he doesn't think we'll be going back to school this school year 

I cannot keep up. As a mom, teacher, and someone who is incredibly concerned about public health I feel super conflicted; I feel empathetic of every party and opinion involved. In a weird way, this is a blessing in disguise- a very exhausting one. 

As a mom, I want to keep my kindergartner home as much as possible. I fully get the evidence that kids are as low-risk as you can get and I am eternally thankful. But, that being said, my kid touches everything and bites his effing nails. As a mom, I am also slightly terrified at the prospect of hunkering down in my home with a little boy who rarely STFU and is quite energetic. He is an only child and I am sad that he won't get to be around his friends, so I've been in touch with a friend of his to do some FaceTime and I just realized I had another one of his friend's mom's numbers. Better than nothing! As a mom, I am also incredibly excited to get to spend so much quality time with him and get in touch with my old elementary teacher self and provide structured content for him every day. 

As a teacher, I am absolutely devastated. I love my students very much and we have all worked so hard their junior year and now their senior year to prepare for the IB test in May and for college (I teach about 120 seniors daily). There's so much uncertainty and I hope that we can figure out something that is flexible and works. As a teacher, I am thankful that I am being paid and I plan to fully rise to the occasion. I am providing daily work on Google Classroom, am interacting with students constantly, and I even let them in on my Alumni Instagram account, just so we could maybe do some Instalives and have some fun distractions (unless they get too crazy, than I will shut that down super fast, haha). As a teacher, I am worried about my students' mental health, the challenges their lower-income households will surely face, and the fact that they are losing so many end-of-the-year experiences that they worked so hard for. As a teacher, I am worried about the classroom content that millions of students are missing out on, as there still is about 1/3 of the school year left (although, minus a few weeks for state testing at some levels, a week for finals/end of the year activities, etc... so not quite as bad). But, as a teacher, I am cautiously optimistic. Teachers are problem solvers. We get shit done. During our thirty-minute lunch breaks we're capable of eating, responding to emails, gossiping with colleagues, filing papers, and peeing- all at the same time (well, maybe not the peeing part). We're resilient- we've seen monstrous cuts to funding over the years, we've taken on school boards and won, we've had various kids in our classrooms simultaneously throwing up, itching from lice, and throwing pencils across the room. We will rise to the occasion as a profession and do our damned best to make sure we are working with the parents who are willing to help their kids as much as possible. As a teacher, I am also worried about the parents who don't want to help, but, as a teacher, I'm used to that. And I will still do my best, as I will next year (and the year after) when we're trying to work on rebuilding the learning deficit that has grown I will try the hardest I've ever tried. 

As a fan of public health policy (yeah, this is an awkward phrase, I own it), I get it. I totally and completely get it. Look at Wuhan- they have had this virus for about two and a half months, and they are just now returning, cautiously, to life. Their response was much more aggressive than ours, so the fact that we're so behind makes the prospect of a longer social distancing necessity realistic. As a fan of public heath policy, I understand that Americans aren't immune- we aren't more special than the rest of the world, and because of the size of our country we are at incredible risk of losing so many. As a fan of public health policy, I am angry that we are so far behind with testing and that a country of such resources and intellect didn't face this catastrophe with bolder, swifter measures. As a fan of public health policy, I understand that experts are going to have to make unpopular decisions for the good of the population that are going to anger parents. As a fan of public health policy, I understand you can't have it both ways- if you want people to live and society to resume, you can't continue with life as normal in the present.

I get it. This is a huge, huge, huge problem- kids out of school means no learning, child care issues, parents not being able to work, family conflict, safety concerns, subpar nutrition- the list goes on and on and on. I get it. I feel it. It scares me. I grew up in a household that barely lived paycheck-to-paycheck and I fully comprehend how devastating this would have been to my single mom. I cannot wait for this to be over so I can donate some cold hard cash to charities that will help recover, my excess pantry items to food banks, and my time to students who need remediation.

But you know what else scares me? The recent model that came out today that said 2.2 million Americans could die if we don't take drastic measures. That number basically guarantees that most people will be touched by death in some way. That could be your grandpa. Or mine. It could be your best friend's daughter in remission for cancer. It could be a colleague with Lyme Disease. I would rather deal with a prolonged school closure than risk this widespread loss of lives. Do I think that maybe we should slow down making decisions? Yes. But remember when we slowed down and didn't prepare for this virus? That didn't turn out very well, either. 

It's going to be rough and sometimes terrible. But let's figure out how to flatten the curve, okay? 

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