Next week begins the return to school, but this year school will be held in our home and on the computers. My youngest’s long-awaited kindergarten year, after two years of pre-school, because she turned 5 just too late to be admitted last year, and she will not have the experiences I’d hoped for her. The first day of school will look much different than her sister’s, and much different than she has been not-so-patiently waiting for since then.
Granted, this was my choice, but no matter what we decided to do, school was not going to be what we had all dreamed of for her this year. Our options were to stay home, receive a laptop and go virtual with some parts delivered by a teacher from her school and some from the online academy the district was using, or to go to school four days a week for four hours with no specials, no recess, and the looming threat of catching something, a something that there was no for-sure-way to know how it would affect her, her sister, or anyone to whom they may unknowingly spread it.
This was the big year where both girls were to be in school full time, a year during which I had hoped to return to a classroom of my own after leaving mine in 2016 to stay home with them. I too am a teacher, and last year I had the opportunity to sub in their building although my certification is in ELA 7-12. It was an eye-opening experience, to say the least, and gave me an incredible appreciation for what elementary school teachers do on the daily. And while there were openings posted this summer in districts in which I would love to teach, I let them pass me by as I would be overseeing school here, for online education would inevitably require my assistance as well.
Friends and family have children returning. Friends and family go about this pandemic in a completely different way than my household has chosen and while in most situations that does not bother me in the least as I am very much a “you do you” and “I will do me” kind of person, it is hard at times and makes me question our approach. Are we doing the right thing?
As we are preparing for the virtual year there is still not as much guidance and clear cut answers as I would like to see. To no fault of their own, the classroom teachers assigned to the online academy kids do not have all the answers, and while I do not begrudge them, I am a teacher too, and planning is a part of my soul. When asked in years past if I would ever homeschool my children, I would laugh in the face of the questioner. Are you crazy?
After spending most of the school year in the primary school with them last year, and even taking a long-term sub spot, homeschool was our first thought as this pandemic broke. We were completely ready to be all in for the long haul. I was delighted and surprised when I heard about the online academy being offered by the district and with the guidance of an actual primary school teacher, we felt that would then be the best option. I wouldn’t have to pull the girls from their district. There would still be some peer interaction. I wouldn’t have to go it alone.
Now the control freak side of me is rearing her head and I again question if we are doing the right thing. Should I have just pulled them? I know the curriculum. I could have ordered the texts needed. I could have started by now. I could have a neat little schedule and be in total control of what and how long and when learning occurs. Fundamental aspects of how the year will go are not clear such as how long will the girls be online each day? When will the teacher portion take place? How are my girls going to react to all of this? Are they truly going to get what they need to be successful? And all I can do is wait, just like with everything else related to the pandemic. Wait and see.
Wait and see about a vaccine. Wait and see about an outbreak. Wait and see who will be the first person I know to get infected. Wait and see how the holidays will go. All the while second-guessing every cautious move because I am not seeing a lot of infection in my social circles. Towns nearby, local prisons have all had cases—nothing like other areas of the country yet, but the uncertainty of whether it will pass our area by or we will be the next big thing seems like such a risk to me. Then when others I know seem completely unconcerned, I don’t know what to think.
Regardless, we are staying the course of wait and see because I know in my heart that if I don’t and something happens, I’m the one who will have to live with that, and so we do “us” despite what sacrifices that means we make. And so all that is left to do is just hope that others are right, and it won’t be such a big deal, and this will all be over sometime soon.