Like you, I watched the Mead district webinars explaining the process of coming back to school in person. I can tell you the level of “unknowns” inherent in the start of this school year is very uncomfortable for teachers. Many of us are major planners, after all. I am a little less regimented than some classroom teachers and open to improvising, but I’m still uncertain (and worried) about how the library will be used–will it be converted to a classroom because of its more generous dimensions? Will I be going room to room to deliver library lessons? Is this a greater risk of cross-contamination? Will I teach my usual concepts or create new ones based on the last six months? How can we possibly pretend our world is the same as it was last year?
My favorite article addressing the “should we or shouldn’t we” open schools debate was written by Spokesman Review columnist (and book author) Shawn Vestal. This was written three weeks ago, before Mead had made the difficult decision to open in person. (The day the article came out, the number of cases in Spokane county was 3,884. Today, it’s 4,956. Source http://www.srhd.org)
Here’s an excerpt:
Reopen. We have to. However: Are you nuts? Kids are going to wear masks? All day long? Stay 6 feet apart? Even when no one’s watching? Have you met kids? For every age level, from kindergarten to senior year to undergrads, this vision of a rigorously compliant student body is a fantasy. The district has been put in an impossible position. There is pressure to open, and there is pressure not to open; there is the idiot fury of the anti-masker cohort and threats to defund the schools from the president; there is a daily rise in cases and a growing recognition among political leaders that we may have to backpedal on reopening the economy; there is contradictory and evolving science; there are incompatible demands at every turn. We’re laying it all at the door of the schools.
Of course we all want to return to school to see friends and engage in class activities. I miss my library and students so much! And parents want to see their kids in a normal school setting, but it’s definitely not the normal we are all used to. One of my former colleagues who had the CUTEST themes to her classroom every school year has pared down nearly all her decor, ditched her desk and bookshelves, and now it looks like this:
I mean, of course it will function, and the same level of love and academic rigor will be present, but so will the anxiety about “What if…? For all of us.
“…Hybrid learning, mixing constant fear with a dollop of logistical chaos
.. Remote learning, marrying logistical chaos with the cold cloak of devastating isolation..”
Seriously, though, we–teachers, specialists and administrators, are working every day to come up with Plans A, B and C for all the what-ifs when can imagine…which hopefully is a comfort for you.
So here’s what I have been doing during the uncertainty (and my continued snacking and subsequent weight gain) : Shopping for cute masks. How many cloth masks can I justify buying? One for every color scheme? Look how many cute options there are for librarians!!
BTW you should all be having your students practice wearing their masks every day. We put this graphic up on our social media sites, and it’s becoming more and more urgent. It will become very tedious and difficult for children to keep masks on all day, and this will help:
I have a friend who works in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) which is one of the most sanitary places on earth (teeny babies are the most fragile patients) who showed me these shields. There is a preference to wear masks but for those of you who just truly believe your child CAN’T keep a mask on, consider these: And add a neck drape to make the contamination less likely. This is a new requirement from the district for those who choose to go with shields.
For those families who choose to learn remotely, don’t worry! I have a plans for lessons and I promise to have engaging and fun content and activities. I am so thankful that our district has agreed to fund a paid version of Seesaw, which families used so well during the spring. While people talk about the shortcomings of our remote learning, I will say we created some primary-aged video superstars who loved posting video content like animal reports and read alouds.
We are still sorting it all out, and this whole situation will make such a good book later. Which I will read to everyone with expression! I should proably be writing this book, but I’m so busy with (snacking and) mask buying…