Re-opening the school

Our elementary schools opened today. Instead of the hybrid, two-days a week model that had been planned for and discussed (at length) for the last year, this was full-time five-days-a-week open for real. My feelings have been mixed. I have a lot of anger about the way in which the switch to a full-time reopening was discussed (not at all) and announced (without warning) and the slap-dash manner in which all manner of details and decisions were then subsequently made. Those children unwilling or unable to go back to in-person learning have been regulated to a shadow ‘distance-learning’ district-within-a-district: different teachers with different students from different schools and with a different principal. The racial make up of the students who are returning to in-person learning (e.g., 90% of white parents are sending their kids back, while 65% of black parents are doing the same) belies the claims “reopen for equity” trumpeted by the (white) parents who have been publicly campaigning to open the schools. Much about this process is callous and cruel and I don’t like it.

The experience today was surreal; kids were back at school. The school building had kids outside! We formed long lines—separated by grade—to check-in and confirm our health screening forms had been properly submitted for the day. We took our children to meet their teachers in person for the first time, and then we left them at school for the day.

When my kids came back they were full of smiles and talking fast, updating me with the details of their day. It felt joyful to see them happy and full of this energy that has been lacking this past awful year. And the day was a success, the re-opening was fine. I don’t know what will happen if/when COVID start circulating amongst the student population. That remains a worry.

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