Updated: Jul 25, 2020
When I received the acceptance letter from the school my son would be attending in the fall I was elated. 1. Because as a parent my last child (my last baby) would be embarking on the joys of "big school." 2. I would have the glorious opportunity of escorting him into a school building (hopefully holding my hand) where I would wait a while, and kiss him goodbye as I too leave for school. However, all of those joys, sentiments, and ideas, are being thwarted by the uncertainties of what school will look like this coming August, 2020. In the midst of a global pandemic known as COVID19.
My heart aches for the decisions that, as a parent and educator I, and so many others, will have to face. There seems to be no "good" decision, no "happy medium". The thought of my kiddos returning to a physical building fills me with anxiety. Why? Because I worry about the stigma of contracting COVID19. I think "yes the chances of children getting it could be relatively high." But more so, I worry about who they may come into contact with if they are asymptomatic carriers thus unknowingly transmitting the disease that may endanger the life of someone else's loved one.
My husband and I had the candid conversation with our babies this morning about the ways in which school will NOT be like "normal" in the fall. I don't think they had completely processed this. They, like many children their age, are more concerned about being with their friends and not the complexities of contact tracing, reasons they will have to stay in pods, not transition to specials or move to different classes (a privilege any 6th grader looks forward to). I sing and profess the song Promises: "I put my faith in Jesus, my anchor to the ground" while pondering the ways in which my anchor is being dragged before it will ultimately reach a halt.
I am also reminded and experiencing the emotional toll having been on Distance Learning, (as an educator and parent, but any caregiver can relate) transitioning into summer ensuring my kiddos are having a "fun and non boring summer," working as an Extended School Year provider, and possibly heading back into Distance Learning could have on an individual. Y'all pray for a sistah.
I attempted to take a break from it all last week and I felt like I didn't know what to do with myself. This isn't including all of the other commitments many of us may have.
In addition, I am angered, frustrated, saddened by the inequities in our educational system. Angered because districts aren't equally funded. Frustrated that property value determines funding for schools. Angered, frustrated, and saddened that BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) suffer far larger disparities in owning property, finding a "good paying job" meanwhile being told to "pull yourself up by your bootstraps". One would think a place where students should be able to get advancement (the classroom) isn't plagued with inequities.
Here I lay typing, reflecting on all the things I should and shouldn't be doing. I shouldn't be worried about whether sending my children, my babies, into a physical building in the fall will be safe. I shouldn't be agonizing over whether they will be protected because their school doesn't have the same amount of funding as another district to purchase protective gear, or procure adequate cleaning supplies. I shouldn't have to talk to my children about why going back to school will be extremely different. Yet, here I am, here so many of us are. Feeling the whirlwind of emotions. Feeling opinionated about what should be done. Feeling outraged by what isn't being done. Feeling ALL the feels: anxious and hopeful, supported and alone, infuriated and pleased.
My encouragement to myself and all of you is: this is a season. A tough season for many no doubt. But like Sam Cooke and Rev. Timothy Wright sang,"trouble don't last always." And Lord knows I'm ready for this trouble to be over. So let's continue to lean on our support systems. Try to create one if you don't have one. Advocate to what is equitable and just. And like I always say, if it isn't good enough for your child it shouldn't be good enough for someone else's child.
Until next time.