Well, it’s happening.
Our school district announced a move from all-day inperson classes to full virtual learning starting Monday.
I suppose we all saw this coming.
Some of my friends were surprised in September when we managed to stay in school past the first month. We had taken pessimistic bets on how long the temporary freedom from our school-age children would last. We were thrilled when we were still able to send them in for Halloween celebrations.
But here it is, early November, approximately 55 days into this pandemic school year, and we are preparing to hunker down at home once again and attempt to explain common core math without becoming permanently unhinged.
Though I taught high school for over 10 years, I struggled during last spring’s quarantine to motivate my own kindergartener to spend longer than 3 seconds on sight words or 10-frames. To put it lightly, I am not super excited about my upcoming task of facilitating online learning.
As I explained to my 7-year-old son this morning that, after today, he would be attending class from the kitchen table, I felt a lump rise up in my throat and I choked on my words. He was looking up at me with those wide eyes – his face caught in an expression of serious stillness. He nodded as I blabbered away, stumbling over my flimsy explanation of the virus, contagion, quarantine, staffing.
He understood; more than I gave him credit for, really. They have been priming him for this moment since school started at the beginning of August. He blinked at me as I droned on about Zoom classes and eLearning assignments.
He knew this was coming too; even in his innocence, he was viscerally aware of the inevitable shut down looming over his first-grade year.
I ended with some warbling clichés of positivity (“It’ll be fun!” “We can learn together!” “I’ll get to see all the stuff you’ve been working on in class!”).
When I was done with my lame pep talk, I smiled unconvincingly, hoping my wobbly enthusiasm was enough to shade the fear and disappointment I felt about the coming weeks.
Silence fell as he looked off over my shoulder.
“Ok,” he said finally, with a slight crease in his brow. “But what about recess? We have recess twice a day.”
“Yes!” I warbled. “We will definitely have recess. We can play basketball, ride our bikes, go to the park, even hike in the woods. We can do recess any way we want, whenever we feel like we need it!”
His face softened into a smile, “Any time I want?”
“Yep, any time you want,” I said, and he turned back to his Eggo, face relaxed, satisfied with the solution. He was ok. Our kids are so resilient, able to sift through all the expectations and settle on what really matters.
I stepped back into the kitchen to refill my coffee and swallow the weight of the Knowing and the Unknown and the Responsibility and the Dread.
We will get through this. We will have recess.