The last eight weeks in quarantine have been magical and disastrous all at the same time. It has been really hard. The emotions are high and all over the place. There are so many options and none at all. There has been all the time in the world and not enough. So many dishes to do and the never ending laundry. As well as the end of school and the beginning of virtual classes.
I think for parents, working or not, the dismissal of school was a difficult thing to deal with. No one had ever been through this type of thing before. A pandemic, what is that? Everyone to do virtual learning? Pssshhhhhh…
My daughter took it pretty hard when she realized that she couldn’t go back to school. Initially she thought of it similar to Christmas break. But then the governor came on the media and said that she was closing the schools for the remainder of the year. That is heart breaking to a child who is so attached to the routine and her teachers, all of her wonderful friends. Her school district has been amazing about making the transition to online teaching, with Zoom meetings and activities that the students can do at home. They have worked around the technology and the internet issues along with making sure that kids still have access to meals. They really have done an excellent job under the circumstances. I applaud them.
My question is what now?
We all know that schools are giant germ factories. Between the colds, stomach bugs, flu, hand foot and mouth, head lice, (the list keeps going) it is a nightmare trying to get families through those months where kids spend more time inside transferring germs than they do outside playing. It seems like as soon as a kid gets over one illness, they are getting something else. And the poor teachers getting sick right along with them. I always feel the struggle more because my daughter has virus induced asthma. She gets sick, her asthma can run wild. Not cool. I also know littles that have juvenile diabetes, heart issues, or just super weak immune systems. These sick months the kids encounter are extra hard for them and can lead to devastating consequences if the illness gets out of control.
Here is my problem…do I allow my daughter to go back to school if it reopens or keep her home and home school her? I have asked teachers that I know along with my daughter’s teacher what they have heard about next year. I get conflicting stories; some say there will be regular school (no changes) then others say that there may be a hybrid model where only half the kids go at a time and there are virtual classes for the others.
I think that if the school has any common sense, they will have a plan in place as soon as possible knowing that if there is a change to the schedule, parents need to make accommodations. But that is not the only issue. These are the smoking guns for me:
1-the cleaning of the school
2-parents that give no shits and send their kids to school sick anyway
1-The cleaning of the school is huge for me because I know they do not clean it very well. How do I know this? I worked there. Yes, I worked in this school district for a few years and the same custodial staff that was there then is there now, and most of them do not clean well at all. The custodial staff only tidy up common areas; they don’t sanitize anything except lunch tables and bathrooms. But most times the bathrooms will be out of TP and hand soap so I don’t know what help that is. Also, they do not clean/sanitize tables, chairs, or desks in the classrooms themselves, the teachers have to do that on their own. Like they don’t have enough on their plate as it is. I have never seen any of them clean a door knob or drawer handle. I just don’t think with the limited staff they have they will not be able to adequately SANITIZE all the things necessary.
Also, just a little tid bit to this, my daughter is not allowed to wash her hands at the necessary times. The only time she can wash her hands is if she uses the bathroom, well if there is soap. They do not allow her to wash her hands before she eats (breakfast and lunch), after she eats, or after recess. She is only allowed hand sanitizer. Now I know hand sanitizer is helpful in those situations when you are in a bind and don’t have access to wash your hands, but guess what, they have those things at school. She should be able to wash her little fingers before she eats. Aaannnnddd, I have worked with my daughter for years on washing hands and how to properly do it. She knows what to do and does it well, so I would like her to use soap and water. Ya feel me?
2-I have watched this time and time again where parents send their kids to school sick just to be called by the office 30 minutes later telling the parent to come get their kids. Or a parent that was told to come get their sick child from school and they don’t show up for 2 hours. Um, no. Sorry. School is not your babysitter, no matter how much you think it is. School is not your daycare provider. If your kid is sick and is contagious, they need to stay home. Most schools, especially elementary schools have sick policies that parents should follow. Now do some parents let their kids go to school sick and have no clue, sure. It happens. But as an educator, I have watched so many people send kids to school with them coughing all over the place and snot running down their face only to get multiple other kids (and families) sick. Not cool. So I am sure a kid that has COVID-19 symptoms will just be sent to school to give it to other kids because their parents found it to inconvenient to keep them home.
I so badly want my daughter to have her school experiences and see her friends, but I want it done SMART. I want the school to follow through, and I don’t have enough faith in them that rules will be followed and proper sanitation will take place. I want parents to be responsible and accountable for making sure that they are also following policies and procedures keeping their children home when sick. Unfortunately, I just don’t know in a building with hundreds of kids, this is even possible.
I think that it comes down to every family doing what works best for them. Whether it is regular school or switching to all online classes or home-school, you have to do what is right. You do you. You have to have true peace of mind that you are making the right choice. No parent should feel bad for making that choice when they feel it was the best. And I am ok with their choice and respect that. I just hope that they will respect mine.