Well my, my, how the turns have tabled. Talk of kids going back to school are heating up in my city, as the public schools are supposed to return in just two weeks. My own kids are supposed to go back a week after that. It seems to be an either-or situation at the moment. Either the higher-ups of each school district are meeting in person to discuss the plan, then coming back later as some of them having COVID-19, or they are meeting virtually to talk about cramming 30+ kids on one classroom. Doesn’t really seem like someone thought that through… seems like that should be a teachable moment perhaps…
If you are meeting through zoom to discuss all of the safety measures that need to be taken in mere weeks, doesn’t that show that if you wouldn’t even put yourself in a room with as few as a dozen adults, (who should know how to properly sneeze and then sanitize their hands) that maybe you shouldn’t mash dozens of snotty, coughing, dirty petri dishes together. But they are going to turn all of the desks facing the same way, so it’s okay.
Now I live in the county that has the highest number of cases and the highest number of deaths in my entire state. So I understand my view will be skewed to match the seriousness we are facing here. The whole school-in-person or school-at-home debate will be different in another county, in another state. I get that. I can only speak to how I feel about my county.
About a month ago we received the “rules and guidelines” for returning to school. They also stated they would be subject to change when the Governor made his final school statement, which is this week. I won’t list the dozens and dozens of “if this” or “if that” situations, but a few key highlights I want to bring up.
Kids and staff have to wear masks. Okay. My kids’ school has two classrooms of all of the younger grades. So 60 Kindergarteners… 60 five-to-six-year-olds… and 1st Grade, and 2nd Grade, and so on… with still only two adults in each classroom to make sure every kid is keeping their mask on, and on correctly… riiight…
Extra cleaning and sanitizing of all surfaces. Again, with no extra help. So are my kids now spending a chunk of their day just cleaning? They can just do that at home and help me out. Are the teachers stopping every 30 minutes to wipe down something? How are they effectively teaching like that? How many teachers will be crying behind their masks after just a few weeks? You’re right. More like a few days.
Recess will be staggered, no groups allowed to play together, and lunches eaten alone and socially distanced. So… my kid is eating alone, playing alone, being alone all day? Plus can’t touch anyone. Can’t turn to the side to talk to someone. Can’t see anyone’s face. Can’t. Can’t. Can’t.
Now, I get it, the seriousness of COVID-19. I have family members that have had it, friends that had it. I know people that have recovered and people that have not. I’m not taking the pandemic lightly. I just don’t see how this way of school life will be beneficial to the kids. How is the mental health of my kids going to be affected by a year of that kind of school?
Then there’s the laundry list of taking temperatures before getting on buses, before entering the classroom, sending kids home if they have a fever and then they can’t return for three to ten days, and same with teachers. What if a teacher has a fever, or tests positive? Does that whole class now have to stay home for the ten days? Those that say the kids won’t learn anything at home… well, how do you call all of that going to school? How do you see that being any more productive?
Now, you want to throw the financial aspect at me. That’s fine. Parents need to work. I know. I am a single mother of four children. I’d rather eat ramen noodles myself every single day than send my kids to that kind of environment. After reading my older two the entire guideline to returning to school, my ten-year-old told me that “mom, that would kill my soul, I do not want to go back like that” and my eight-year-old said “that sounds horrible, do we really have to go back” and well, that made my decision for me. I wouldn’t want to put myself through that. How can I send my kids to school like that, when they understand the consequences and don’t want to go?
So. Will I struggle financially this year? Yes. Will my kids miss seeing their friends, doing the school play, participating in all of their clubs? Yes.
But. Will they be healthier? Yes. Will they be happier? Eh. I hope so. Yes, let’s say yes. Will they get to at least have interaction amongst themselves? Yes. Would I ever forgive myself if I sent them that way, and they still got COVID-19? Never.
A child educated only in school is an uneducated child. ~ George Santayana (December 16, 1863-September 26, 1952)