Take a journey with me, to a land far away, a land of dreams and nightmares…
I’m in a classroom surrounded by all my anxieties about the upcoming year. Teaching in person and online simultaneously. Getting Covid. Spreading it. Being too lax. Being so uptight it breeds fear. Not having enough time to do it all. Not being my best for my students. Failing them when they need me.
I stop. I breathe. I calmly affirm that I’m ready. 2020 has thrown almost anything it can at us already. We’ve got this; I’ve got this. I stand at peace with whatever comes next.
Suddenly I’m roused awake by chaotic barking. 6:54 am. I hear the back door crack open. Matthew sets the dogs loose on whatever it was. Then, from behind the safety of the screen door, Matthew screams, “SKUNK!!!!!”
I’m out of bed. Bobby is yelling, “get the dogs in! Get the dogs in!” But it’s too late. I arrive at the back door in time to watch the dogs rolling in grass and drooling profusely in an effort to clear the stench.
America is not a place. She is an idea, an ideal, something we strive for and often fall short of. To all who have served in any capacity, as soldiers, as first responders, as civil servants, as educators: THIS is the thing we try to create, the thing many have given their lives for, dedicated careers to, the thing so many abandon their homelands to seek: America in all her glory. She is not a place. She is an ideal.
So, part of the reopening plan for Texas gives the indicators for being able to return to school. (See below).
It puts the student or staff member out of school for a minimum of 10 days (because all three conditions must be met.) Now, I’m not picking a bone with that part. I want to be safe.
HOWEVER. The third option allows an individual with say, allergies, to get a doctor’s note saying that they don’t have COVID. It’s just allergies. It’s a great option. It’s an option my son with asthma could use. BUT. It puts students and families with few economic resources at a disadvantage. They will have to stay home for a minimum of 10 days (about 8 school days), and another kid with access to health care will be back in a day, note in hand. Who has an educational advantage in this situation? It’s an equity issue.
This illustrates one of the MANY simple yet profound injustices in our world.
And next time you see me in person, ask me what I know about being on the other side of this situation, the receiving end, if you will. It might surprise you.
“Any teacher, staff member, or student who experiences any of the symptoms of COVID-19 (listed below) should self-isolate until the below conditions have been met.
In the case of an individual who was diagnosed with COVID-19, the individual may return to school when all three of the following criteria are met: at least three days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (resolution of fever without the use of fever- reducing medications); and the individual has improvement in symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and at least ten days have passed since symptoms first appeared; or
In the case of an individual who has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and does not get evaluated by a medical professional or tested for COVID-19, the individual is assumed to have COVID-19, and the individual may not return to work until the individual has completed the same three-step criteria listed above; or
If the individual has symptoms that could be COVID-19 and wants to return to school before completing the above self-isolation period, the individual must obtain a medical professional’s note clearing the individual for return based on an alternative diagnosis.”
Edited to add: I don’t have a problem with requiring doctors notes, as long as everyone has access. If not everyone has access (which they don’t…), then we need to either: address the problem by creating access (ideal) or abandon the requirement until it can be addressed. In this case that would take the form of either (1) not requiring a note OR (2) making everyone complete all 3 criteria before returning.
Edited again: To be perfectly clear. This will mean that more poor children, more black and brown children, more children with unavailable parents, will miss school than kids with middle class and / or white and/ or available families.
I keep wanting to write a post about #BLM / #blacklivesmatter, but then I remember that what I have to say isn’t nearly as important as what people of color have to say. White people have been sharing their thoughts for generations and drowning out the voices of people of color in the process in favor of a white-washed perspective. So, while I will probably eventually share my thoughts, for now, I’m just sharing the thoughts of others and listening. If you are white, consider this thought. #amplifyblackvoices #amplifymelanatedvoices
You know what the most exhausting part of the online/ distance learning stuff is? It’s not the grading. Or the assignment creating. It’s not even the fact that now kids can turn things in 24/7 or that sometimes they need help at 11pm… No. It’s not the parent contact or the video lessons or the zoom meetings.
It’s the fact that I know these kids in and out, and I notice everything in their writing. I notice when a kid who usually does everything suddenly stops. I notice when a kid who would *never* copy and paste something does. I notice when the kid who was doing so good drops off the face of the Earth.
From the outside you might say, “something came up” or “he’s just lazy” or “everybody’s cheating”. But if you *really* know these kids and you check in on them it’s, “I’ve lost all motivation and haven’t gotten out of bed and I don’t have an appetite anymore” or “I’m so overwhelmed; it’s paralyzing, and I don’t know what to do” or “X kid ran away from home and didn’t take any devices to do his work”.
It’s being on mental health patrol in ways that were weighty before and unimaginably, infinitely more weighty now.
Slightly over a quarter of a score ago, I gave birth to JL, now a handy crew member. Today we celebrated his sixth consecutive rotation around the sun, and as a result, little was accomplished on USS Homefront. Also, although rats are generally considered to be vermin on ships, we decided to let JL keep one as a pet. His name is either Hammy, Climber, Black Ninja, Dark Scorpion, or DJ, “ ‘cause he’s ROCKIN’ “.
I did still have to man my virtual ship, as of yet unnamed. Smooth seas today.
Now that we are beginning to establish a rhythm with all the ships and crews and such, I figured I should detail a schedule for posterity.
Shower Crew eats breakfast Captain skips breakfast and posts assignments for virtual crew Crew begins morning school assignments Captain holds virtual meeting and instruction for virtual crew MT works independently while captain interacts with virtual crew Lunch – Captain makes lunch for crew and 50/50 chance captain skips lunch Captain holds virtual meeting and instruction for virtual crew (Spanish) Crew alternates working on more school Captain continues interacting with virtual crew Captain gets headache from forgetting to eat Dinner Captain continues with virtual crew Crew alternates finishing up work Captain retires to watch a show before bed Wash – Rinse – repeat
Today I made checklists thinking they would help. I was mistaken. Now, my chaos is organized, and my suspicions are confirmed: there really IS a lot to do.
None of the crew cried today. The captain felt overwhelmed a total of 87 times. Everyone is still alive.
On the virtual ship today, there was a problem with an assigned task. I asked crew to attach a document to something that documents cannot be attached to. Luckily, the crew noted the problem early on and the problem was mitigated. Seas were generally calm, eerily so. Is it possible we are finding a rhythm? This remains to be seen.
On the actual ship, in an effort to pilot two other virtual ships, crew alternated receiving education from me. I think our close relationship raises tension since each episode usually culminates in some type of crying or general frustration on the part of the crew member.
As an example, the youngest crew member was asked to pick a word that is synonymous with “stinky”. Options were “smelly” or “tasty”. Crying ensued. Why you ask? Because the answer is “smelly” and “I don’t know which one to circle!!!!” Circle “smelly”. But which one do I circle? Smelly. Tears. So many tears. The coast guard called to see if we were intentionally driving a ship in circles or if we were in distress. Distress. We were certainly in distress. We abandoned ship and will probably reluctantly return in the morrow.
Back on the actual ship, hereby dubbed USS Homefront, co-captain Bobby went ashore for takeout. The idea behind this strategy was efficiency. Saving time = less stress = more time at the helm. I do have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the sustenance though it saved no time. (It did, however, save dishes). In the 40 minutes it took to go ashore, we could have cooked. Oh well. None of this is efficient anyway 🤷🏻♀️.
For diversion, Bobby and I have found entertainment in a show about Tigers and Monarchy and Deceit. When I’m tempted to believe our ship is in peril, I can just remember the Tiger King and be glad I’m not on that ship. #grateful