Today has been a day like most others over the last 3 months. I get up and come downstairs in my pjs. Said ‘Good Morning’ to Gusie the rabbit and make sure he has clean water, hay, and pellets. I open the curtains, make my coffee, and started watching GMA.
But somehow, today feels different.
Maybe it’s because it’s an overcast — like God has blanketed the sky with the gloom of everything that is going on right now. IT just makes me want to go back to bed and start the
day week month year over. I’m feel a little helpless and stunted by the state of the world right now.
This loop of being stuck behind the same 4-walls feels like it is never going to end. I realize that it is far worse for many others. But this is my reality right now and just because others have it worse doesn’t negate how I feel.
My husband and I are faced with the choice of sending the Tiger and the Dragon to our district school for either in-class instruction or opt for virtual/online school instruction. This choice is a 9-week commitment (at least that is how I read it based on the district plan).
Now let me state a couple of things. Our school districts—like many across the country—were forced to do virtual/online instruction for the last 9 weeks (or so) of the 2019-2020 school year. The district was NOT prepared to do that. It was like there was no plan in place for any remote possibility of ever needing to online educate kids.
It was a joke. We had some excellent teachers who did their best. But without real direction or a preparedness plan by the school board, the teachers just figuring it all out on their own.
But now that they have had the summer to get their ‘ducks in a row’ we have to pray that they have figured out the virtual thing.
I’ll come back to the importance of that.
The choices: In-class or virtual
The in-class instruction reopening plan looks fairly robust. My assumption is that that is because the county health department had to approve of the plan. And —on paper— it looks great. But we are talking about kids —and in my case elementary kids— these are kids that haven’t seen their friends in 5 months and you are expecting them to social distance and keep masks on, wash their hands (correctly) all the time. Again, on paper looks great. But as always when you transfer something from paper to real life, things can get wanky.
Now, Indiana’s COVID-19 numbers have not moved up as steeply as other states.
However, they are still going up.
And in less than a month, we are going to put 600 kids and 80 adults into a roughly 63k square foot building* and pray that numbers per city/country/state don’t go up. Putting a strain on healthcare workers, hospitals, etc…and of course setting us back into virtual/online school?
*These are rough estimates I found online and are just elementary school guestimates. Middle and high school numbers look different.
Noteworthy: In Indiana, no convention with over 250 people attending. However, open school and have 700 people in the building for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week.
I am an educated adult.
I trust science.
I have faith in God.
I know how important education is and that in-class with licensed teachers and peers is the best. Which is what makes all of this SO hard. Because the alternative to the above is virtual/online school.
Based on the limited information provided in my district’s plan (I can only assume because they don’t have to have that approved by a county or state entity) AND their track record on virtual/online school, there is no clear choice.
Start in-class for a couple of weeks then get shifted to virtual/online being 2 weeks behind all those who have already got that system figured out.
Because of that, I’d like to believe that online is the best option. I’d also like to believe that my district has a plan for TRUE online instruction—teachers zoom-teaching for several 30-minute sessions with breaks for follow-up online worksheets to reinforce and show comprehension, etc…
But my fear is that that plan isn’t as fleshed out as I’d like.
I chose to send my kids to public school because being a teacher requires a special skill set. That is why the state doesn’t just let anyone walk off the street and become a public school teacher. It requires a degree and much like doctors, nurses, lawyers; teachers are required by the state to have a license.
I am not a teacher. At least not in anything beyond life skills, basic math, basic science, and reading. Certainly not in history, music, art, physical education, and (as you can tell) grammar/spelling.
But we are in a place in this country where we are asking parents with little to no training (in some cases-sadly, not even a high school diploma) and with TOO much stuff on their minds (bills, putting food on the table) to be the educator of the most valuable commodity this country has…our children. And yes, maybe it’s just one year. But think about how far behind a kid can get in one year.
Let me make it clear, I am happy/willing/able/have the responsibility to assist and build upon what my educational partners (my kid’s teachers) are doing in the classroom. And maybe because I am an educated adult, have faith in God, and my parents always assuring me that if I use the brain God gave me, I can accomplish (almost) anything; I can make sure my little animals do well.
This was really a long rambling stream of consciousness post. But sometimes you just have to get all this stuff out of my head.
Hopefully posting it will make someone who is feeling similarly not feel so alone.
P.S. I know I don’t have the answers, I do have ideas—I am an everyday dreamer and muse • always opinionated but mostly harmless
Here are two of my ideas:
• School being broadcast on TV with a call-in (AND chat) component (ala the 700 Club only… not)
• channel 49.0 with the district info on repeat;
channel 49.1 = kindergarten; 49.2 = first grade, etc…;
• taught by grade-level teachers (per the district roster of teachers) with a different teacher teaching per week. Each day there is a proctor (who is also a grade-level teacher) to answer questions/provide help to the main teacher. The next week the proctor becomes the teacher and a new teacher proctor comes in…repeat to the end of the year.
• You could actually teach beyond just the students in that district…you could reach adults (parents or not) who don’t have a high school degree and GET THEM ONE! that makes me cry with happiness at that possibility.
• A system like this would allow all teachers to get paid throughout the school year AND everyone could stay safe. Easy for two teachers (maybe three-one could run the tech stuff-camera/microphone) to social distance in a room.
• Cost would be a decent camera, tripod, and microphone; internet access. You are already paying the teachers. The FCC should be able to grant free use of the airwaves for educational purposes. Someone could even monetize it with a sponsor (something simple non-intrusive).
• school bubble (ala the NBA bubble)
• commandeer hotels quarantine there for 14 days then start school as if it were a college campus only no one gets to leave for 6 weeks then reassess…
• cost could be substantial unless you got the hotel to sponsor the program and essentially shut down for the 6 weeks. You’d have to have some parents who would be willing to be chaperones and quarantine with the kids. Teachers would have to stay at the hotel as well. NO LEAVING so separation of families would be a big concern.
Listen, I didn’t say they were the best ideas…but sometimes you have to think outside of the box. 🙂
And hey, if you got this far…tell me what your out of the box idea is or build on/over mine!