Counting on Community
The school year begins
The time has come. We have prepared to welcome our students once again.
It is the 22nd August of my teaching career. That means half of my life has been spent teaching in classrooms. The other half: learning in classrooms. I do not know what a life without a school year calendar would be like. No year looks exactly the same, of course. Different kids, different dynamics, new ideas, fresh curricula and supplies. I have taught 4th-12th graders and younger kids in the summers. There are risks with any job, but in teaching I am very familiar with the risks: school shootings for one.
However, no year has been more different than this year. Teaching in the time of COVID-19 is completely new territory.
We have spent a large amount of time spent preparing for safety, social-distancing, arrangements of cohorts, rotation of playgrounds, mask-breaks, off-campus students, on-campus students, outdoor classroom spaces, library book quarantine locations, protocols, quick schedule changes, switches to distance learning, learning technology programs, equipment, staffing, sneeze guards and masks and hand-sanitizer stations at every door, substitutes, and the what ifs that keep us up all night.
Colleagues are quicker to frustrate, quicker to snap at each other, quicker to be exhausted by it all. We are counting on community to hold us up, to volunteer, to follow the rules, and to keep everyone safe by not sending a child with a Motrin-controlled fever to school!
There are so many unknowns. Is it responsible to even have school in-person? When our university down the road has it’s 4th student cluster test positive for the virus, it feels we’re doomed to shutting the whole thing down.
You may be asking why then? We have a small school. We are not part of the public school system. We do not have buses. We end at 8th grade. We are tech-savvy and prepared the best that we can, and we provide a rare service to our families right now. Many of our parents are health-care and other essential workers. Kids can come to school and be together through this, my own child included.
This is a risk I never imagined 22 years ago.
Readers, please send your good vibes. And wear your masks.
2020–2021, let’s go!
Samantha Lazar is a teaching mom, poet, and author.
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