Parents, teachers and students are getting ready to enter into uncharted waters. Sure, there has always been options for online schooling, but that was a choice a parent could make, or a teacher could choose to do, it is now being forced upon us all and it seems like there is no consistency for any of us. Each state is approaching it differently, and inside each state, the counties are doing different things, which only adds to the stress and confusion for all of us.
For me, a teacher and a parent, I feel like I have double the stress. My school district is doing 100% virtual for the first quarter of the year, and then will change, if possible, to a hybrid plan. I have a daughter starting high school and a son starting middle school. Plus I have to virtually teach. I’ve been racking my brain all summer trying to figure out how we are going to effectively handle this for the three of us, we all need a “work” space, and our bedrooms are absolutely not an option. So, this weekend we turned our formal dining room into a classroom for my children. I know I have a good head start on this set up, since I am a teacher, I had plenty of supplies and decorations to make the space really feel like a classroom, and I feel fortunate for that. For myself, I carved out a corner of our unfinished basement, I am going to tack up some pretty sheets, and do my best to make it look presentable for when I am teaching. This is the best we can do for our household, and honestly, just doing your best is all you can really do, there is no real plan or answers for any of us, it’s not a one size fits all type of situation.
Recently, we requested some feedback from our wonderful members about what they are feeling about all of this, what their schools are doing, and how they plan to get through it. Seems a majority of the responses, about what schools in the various areas across the country are doing, is virtual learning. Some are doing a hybrid, where students will go for one to two days in person and then the rest online. Some states are giving the option of sending your child in, or keeping them home. Most parents are overwhelmed at making this decision, I know that I am. One part of me wants them to go back to the building, for some “normal”, but as a teacher I know that that “normal” no longer exists. There won’t be chances for the kids to socialize, there will be no small groups or one on one learning, for the younger grades there will be no carpet story times….I could list on about the ways school will not be the same this year. So, then my next thought is that if they won’t be getting that socialization aspect of school, then I should just keep them home, which right now feels like the safest and smartest idea for me. Just like other members mentioned, I am worried that if I do send my child to school, and someone in the building has the virus, then my child will bring it home to our family. I have a compromised immune system, and my mother, who lives with us, does as well. I know we are not the only family with similar situations to face. This is beyond exhausting!
Another member, who lives out of the US, said that school has been back for them for a few weeks, and they have not had any issues so far. Temperatures are checked at the school entrance, and masks are enforced. That sounds wonderful, but I don’t know how well it would work here in the states. Schools don’t have the funding to implement temperature checks, and mask wearing seems to be a hot button issue for our citizens.
Some of our teacher members have mentioned that they are concerned about enforcing the mask and distance rule with their students. This seems like it won’t only be an issue for elementary schools, but all the way up to high school as well. Younger students will likely play with the masks, and older students may argue about not wanting to wear one, especially if they have parents who are against the mask rules.
What I have gathered is that no one really has the answer, and honestly, that’s ok. We will unfortunately have to figure this out as we go. One of the blessings of the internet is having a large community of people all dealing with the same thing. So we can share our successes, which will hopefully help others find theirs. And we can share our missteps (not failures, there are NO failures with this situation, it’s new for all of us!!!). Sharing our missteps will help others avoid a similar situation, allow us to vent out the frustration, and hopefully gain some insight on how to improve as we go.
Bottom line, this is going to be a LONG school year, no matter where you are. That being said, we are going to get through this! We have no other option but to pull on our big kid pants and get it done. Just like how we support our incarcerated loved one, ONE DAY AT A TIME.