School or No School

Someone I’m connected with on Instagram made this post last night and I talked with him about it via messaging within IG, which you can see below (my comments are in pale gray)..

He goes on to talk about kids who are food insecure (very true), and the fact that school could take place outside (he lives in a warmer climate).

I’ve had conversations with friends who are parents, some of whom are teachers, saying that I didn’t think kids going to school was going to be an issue. Everyone is wearing a mask, great lengths are being made to keep kids apart. When we hear of someone contracting the virus, I contested that they got it outside of school, and that the rates at which people were contracting the virus are the same as they would be if kids weren’t going to school. Meaning, it’s not being spread at school.

Students getting and spreading COVID are getting COVID cause they are hanging out outside of school with people not from their home without wearing masks.

Some friends who are teaching – one is a second grade teacher, the other a learning support lead, have all shared their experiences. The second grade teacher and her colleagues are on the edge of tears at all times. They are teaching to children in a classroom and to children zooming in from home. Planning the day is very difficult. Think about the way a regular day of school would move at a natural pace with the in-betweens – bathroom breaks, a moment to put books away and get out other books, going from the desk to the rug for reading time, kids being able to get up and pick out a game or book to read while they wait for the other kids to finish the worksheet they’re working on, quiet time at a desk between lessons. Moving around in the room isn’t allowed anymore, or at least, it’s very minimized. Instead, the teachers seem to be expected to essentially be on camera and educate non-stop. It’s exhausting for everyone involved.

Gym, art and music still happen, but the homeroom teacher who would typically use this time to lesson plan, has to stay in the room to help out with the zooming part.

One teacher friend told me about a parent who had asked if her child, who wasn’t coming to school at all, would be provided enough work to keep her busy from 8am until 3PM so the parent could get some work done.

Hey mom, you realize lunch is a thing, right? You will have to feed your kid.

Think about the challenge just from a hearing standpoint that teaching children wearing masks (a necessity, I realize) in person, and kids zooming in, would bring.

My learning support lead friend says a teacher asks a question in person, a child in class answers. The teacher can never hear the answer from the masked child, so he or she steps forward and has the child repeat their answer. Then the teacher returns to her desk where the kids zooming in can hear and repeats “He said it’s a square!”

It’s simply not a situation conducive to learning.

This morning as I made an uninspiring breakfast involving yogurt (I’ve been spoiled by muffins too long), an NPR interview took place with a researcher about this very issue. The bottom line was – schools are not super-spreaders, the intellectual and emotional effects of kids not going to school are substantial. Not to mention food insecurity, lack of equity with children at home who don’t have the same resources as some other kids, etc. The other side was the schools’ lack of support and resources, among many other points that result in the final take away which is – There is no right way to do this and parents and teachers have to just do the best they can.

It was after this interview that I realized my trigger with my IG friend’s original post; His argument for kids going back to school should be “Studies have shown that schools are not super-spreader”. Instead, he chose to list odds of death as a valid argument for going back to school along with not being concerned about children suffering side effects of having the virus years from now.

My dad was hospitalized with pneumonia for a week earlier this month. For three or four days we didn’t know if COVID was involved. Multiple tests were required “just to be sure”. It was a nightmare that ended with a negative COVID result. I worried about my dad being scared. I worried that the test would come back positive and I’d never see him again. That I’d have to wait for him to decline and say good-bye to him via Facetime.

Former White House photographer Pete Sousa announced on IG that his mom died a few days ago “unexpectedly but peacefully”. While it was not from COVID, the comments in response to his announcement were chilling; commenter after commenter talked about losing a loved one to COVID; Sick for months and on ventilators, the stories mirrored each other, including the commenters not being able to be with their father/mother/ brother/whomever while they died.

This is why my IG friends’ post bothered me. To list statistical data about the slim varying odds of people at different ages being killed by this disease isn’t a good argument for your kid going back to school, in my opinion. The fact that schools aren’t super-spreaders? Sure. The fact that many children will fall far more behind than others, and possibly even go hungry? Yes.

But diminishing the deaths of 200k people in America to justify your argument? No thanks.

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