A New School Year is Nearly Upon Us!

Parents, rejoice. It’s nearly time to send the monsters back. At least in my school district. We have exactly 2 weeks before the schools open up for everyone but grade K. Even my oldest well be headed off to college for his move-in date on the 29th. It’s exciting, but with everything going on it’s still very anxiety-inducing. What can we expect from the school year?

Our school system hasn’t voted on whether or not they will be enforcing a mask mandate. They said they would base their opinions on the health department, who said “Yes, mask mandates for all”. A school councilman then said in an interview essentially, “enough with the masks, I’m tired of the masks”. So am I. But yet, I still have to wear one in busy locations because people made it a political statement rather than consider things like reason and facts so here we are. One teacher came up and started to talk about how the masks deprive the students of oxygen, and I just hope my kids don’t have to learn science from her because those are false talking points, not reality. I did what I was supposed to do. I wore the masks. I got vaccinated. But the people who don’t are the ones who talk in class when the teacher threatens to give everyone extra homework. And the people who listened to facts and science are the ones left with the extra homework. Doing the right thing sucks most of the time.

My son’s college has a mask mandate in place. If our children are going to school, vaxxed or not, have a mask mandate do we know who’s fault it is? That’s right, the people who aren’t wearing masks or getting vaccinated. Also, coincidentally, are the same people complaining about mask mandates. It’s actually a cycle that I can very easily explain. If numbers are high, then masks get mandated. When a sick person wears a mask, you are reducing the amount of aerosol in the air which, shockingly, means that there’s less virus in the air. Less virus in the air means that people are less likely to get a virus. Now, when a non-sick person wears a mask, this not only serves as extra protection for them but it also protects others should that non-sick person be an asymptomatic carrier. I’m not even particularly great with science and I know that. Also, I don’t trust politicians or news “personalities”. What I do trust is the doctor that I’ve trusted with my health for many years. What I trust are my friends who are medical professionals.

Does this post sound a bit judgy? Do I sound condescending and snide? I hope so. I guarantee that this tone is on purpose. I’m annoyed that this thing could have been over and done with. I’m annoyed that It’s been a year and a half and we’re still arguing about this. Maybe… just maybe, people need to stop getting their news and science information from journalists who specialize in propaganda and just maybe listen to medical professionals that aren’t willing to sell themselves out for a lot of cash. Many of these people are the same ones that laugh at anti-vaxxers, but are looking at the same pseudoscience that a doctor cashed in a big paycheck to write just because it fits in with their beliefs rather than facts.

Will there be a mask mandate? Probably. And you really only have yourselves to blame for that. We should be at a point when we can live with this virus. We could co-exist peacefully with it, letting our lives move on and being done with it. But no. You guys are right to listen to a vaccinated Tucker Carlson who probably wears a mask to work telling you guys not to do either because “medical freedoms”, while also taking away medical freedoms of women. But you’re right. Muh liberties.

Can I Send Them Back Yet?

Like most parents during this coronavirus pandemic, the upcoming school year has given me a lot of anxiety. This anxiety could be eased if I had some sort of expectation of what will be happening in the upcoming school year. With about 6 weeks to go until school starts, I’ve already started getting my youngest in the routine of going to bed/getting up early so he’d be awake for school. But aside from that, my normal preparations of buying school supplies and clothing that I’d normally start planning early based on sales isn’t going to happen for me yet. Why? Why should I buy $200 of school supplies per kid if they don’t end up back in the classroom? Why spend double that on clothes if they are just going to be in their pajamas behind a computer?

I understand why there is so much uncertainty. People were hoping this would be gone by August/September and the kids could go to school as usual and things would be great. But people are dumb (yes, I said it. Dumb people who don’t take precautions are why this is still a problem.), so things can’t go back to normal yet. But where does this leave us? They say we will have some idea of what’s going on by Friday of this week… or of next week. They did release something to give us an expectation of what to expect, plan-wise, but there are too many unknowns.

Based on the information as I interpreted it, there would be a hybrid option and a remote learning option. Every kid is different, and this is exactly the situation in my household. My oldest, who will be a senior this upcoming school year (yikes!), takes an overly crowded bus to school. My youngest walks to school and has a 504 plan in place. Both of these scenarios requires a different approach and I’m a firm believer in individualism.

If given the option, I would let my oldest take remote learning. He’s a bright kid who can work well attending classes online and would keep up with his work because he has goals of going to college and going into forensics, something that he takes very seriously. Plus, I would argue he is at a higher risk of infection because of him being on an overcrowded bus and just because he has a mask on, doesn’t mean the 3 people he’d be sharing the row of seats with would. There’s also the fact that high schoolers switch classes throughout the day, meaning there is an even higher risk of contact. Common sense would tell me if there was a kid that was going to be likely to bring it home with them, it would be the high schooler. He’s likely going to at least miss out on swimming anyways with everything going on, so there won’t be a risk of him not being able to participate because of remote learning.

Then there is my youngest. If given the option, I will be sending him for hybrid learning. First of all, he has a 504 plan with occupational therapy and I’ve tried unsuccessfully to perform those services for him. There’s also the social aspect of it. While my oldest spends all day texting or talking to his friends on Discord or playing games with them, my youngest still needs to develop those important social skills. How to behave in the classroom, how to interact with other kids. Those are things that can really only be learned in the classroom. Having time in the classroom if it’s safe enough, meaning that they can follow the safety guidelines, is beneficial to my youngest during this crucial time in his development. Would I be mad if I didn’t have this option? No, because safety is more important than anything and I’d rather do remote learning with my kids than put my family or other people at risk of getting sick. Honestly, parents already send their kids to school sick half the time because they can’t take the day off of work or they don’t want to deal with it. That’s just not acceptable under these circumstances, so who knows what kids are going to be going to school with. I hope it’s safe and while regulations are great, they puts a lot of assumption that people care enough to follow them. They don’t seem to do that already.

I don’t put any blame on our school district for not having more answers. Should they have been planning something since this all happened, just in case? I would hope that they already had some sort of idea of what the next school year could look like, even if they only recently received the state guidelines for reopening. I’m trusting in the teachers of this district to be the voices of our students, like I’ve trusted the teachers in this district since my own experiences growing up in these schools. My trust in the school council is far less certain, but I’m hoping for the best. This is something new that we’ve never experienced before. This is a new way of life that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, as cases are starting to spike in some areas.