Back To School in Covid Times?
“It was the best of times and the worst of times,” Dickens writes in the opening line of A Tale of Two Cities. And no, he wasn’t referring to school, but if we pause to think about our memories of school, our journeys in school from kindergarten to graduation, may not that paradoxical line sum it up? For some of us school was the best; for others it was the worst or school was both.
Whatever it was, I wonder what it will be for students and teachers this September with Covid-19 still in the air. Yes, it’s back to school time and no one knows what school will look like, feel like, be like.
For starters, the political back to school debate rages over a plethora of problematic issues: How will social distancing work for elementary school with 30 kids in one small classroom? What if Johnny gets the virus and takes it home to his poor grandma? Will the half day in class half day home online combo really work for high school students or will the malls overflow with teens? And anyhow, is there really equity with online school, considering socioeconomic disparity? Aren’t there haves and have nots when it comes to resources that best support online learning for academic success?
What will it be like for teachers, new or experienced? There’s no pandemic manual that tells teachers how to adjust the curriculum, how to make accommodations for students out of school for almost half the previous year. How will teachers care for their own mental health while caring for their anxious students? The hybrid model of in class and online potentially doubles their workload. And on and on…
One thing is sure, masks will be mandatory, even for Grade 1’s, masks the new uniform for all. Imagine teaching or learning all day breathing through a mask.These are the times we live in, our time. Now.
Feeling stressed? Let’s reminisce for a moment. Remember when back to school mostly meant a shopping craze: new crayons, new clothes, new backpack, possibly a new computer and definitely a phone. Back then there was a buzz in the air, excitement over possibilities. Back then, parents began to smile in mid-August while teachers began having nightmares of chaotic classrooms and monsters in the halls, being late or getting lost on the way to their classrooms.
Like everything else in the year of the pandemic, back to school is anything but the norm. Thoughts of school are anxiety producing for all. It will be a strange new world this fall. So here’s the thing. Do something with the back to school scare, even if you’re not heading back to school. Send some good school vibes.
Thank a teacher
Thank your mother or father (or another caregiver) for getting you to school
Pull up a positive school memory; reflect on it or share it
Tell a friend or former classmate of his or her positive role in your life
Listen to a new post-secondary student talk about back to school. Just listen.
Watch a good school-themed movie
Start a back to school memories thing on social media
Teachers, (even retired ones) tell yourself, “I’m amazing.” Then believe it.
Just a few suggestions to beat the back to school blues. But tell me, what are your back to school thoughts?