Yes, you read that correctly. We are sending our kids to school, in the middle of a pandemic.
Just writing that sentence made my eyes mist up.
It’s not like we don’t have a choice. We can send them to a new virtual academy our school district is building.
To say my husband and I agonized over this decision is an understatement. We changed our minds often, sometimes in the span of one minute, one sentence that would stop us cold:
“Do we want to regret sending them and they get sick and end up in the hospital… or worse?”
Of course, the answer is no. Our youngest has an immune system that does not work. A cold is an infection. When she gets sick, her immune system does very little and she gets the worst of it. Name an antibiotic. I’m sure she’s taken it.
I’m am sitting here judging us. I feel confident some of you are judging us as well. That is ok. I get it.
How can parents send their kids to school in the middle of all of this?
It is weird, too. I watched hundreds in my community easily make the decision. I mean, it may not have been easy for all, but they knew pretty quickly if they were sending their kids to school or going virtual.
Fourteen minutes before the deadline to decide virtual… hours after the girls had gone to bed… hours after we had a family meeting and listened to our girls make their case for going… my husband looked at me and said… “So, have we decided?”
It was 15 minutes before midnight. The deadline was 11:59pm. I still didn’t know. I just knew my gut was saying, LEAP! Take this leap of faith that your kids will be ok.
You may be wondering by now: If the decision was so hard, and you’re scared to send them, why are you doing it?
I have one answer for that. We LOVE our schools.
Right now, the leaders of our district are not our favorite people. They are making decisions based on voting blocks and only pleasing the loudest parents. There is no way they’ve made decisions based ONLY on the health and safety of our kids.
But…. we love our schools.
Our 8th grader will have an English teacher that will add seasoning to her life that she cannot get elsewhere. I am confident of that because our oldest also had her. I know her world will open a bit wider if she goes to school and has that teacher.
The administration at that school are some of my favorite people. Heck, that place is family to me. I’ve tried every way, including sideways, to get a full time job in there. (My license doesn’t cover middle school.) I cancel plans just to substitute teach in that building.
Our high school student is going to one of the newest, shiniest schools in our radius. There are teachers in that building who opened up worlds to her last year, her Freshman year. She walked out of school, albeit early thanks to COVID-19, a richer girl. Her horizons are so much wider.
Add to all that…. they are all supposed to wear masks all day and social distance. God help that district if there is no discipline for the kids who don’t follow those rules.
Maybe it is the girl in me who grew up in the 70s and went to high school in the late 80s who sees schools as a magical place. The teachers inside my school took this trailer trash girl out of her abusive life and into worlds of possibilities I had never dreamed.
I know, I know… school will not be the same for our kids as they were in the 70s and 80s. They won’t be the same as it was 6 months ago!!!
I’m aware of the fact that they won’t see each other’s smiles. I’m aware that walking shoulder to shoulder won’t happen. Their giggles will be muffled by cloth over their mouths. They won’t be able to mouth things at each other or make facial expressions while the teacher is teaching them. (Sorry kids! You gotta pay attention!) The boys won’t be high-fiving over their heads, annoying all the girls trying to simply walk down the hall.
However, they will learn how to read each other’s eyes. They will figure out ways to read body language six feet apart. They will figure out ways to giggle through eyes and bodily expression. And, thank goodness, those boys will stop being so crazy in the halls. The hallways will be emptier, quieter and less fun than it usually is, but they will adapt. Our kids will adjust to our new reality.
As many of you may know, from many of my blogs, including The Choice is Clear, my childhood was riddled with abuse. I have worked hard throughout my entire time being a mom to prevent my kids from being sexually abused or raped. It is still a full-time job for me. I want to protect them from everything.
But. I can’t. I will never be able to do that, but I can teach them how to better protect themselves.
This is just where WE are. This is not a judgement on anyone else’s decision. We decided a minimum of 10 times in the past two weeks to go all virtual. We see immense value in keeping our kids out of the cesspool that is school. My heart stops at the risk we are taking. Stops. I feel sick sometimes.
So, believe me virtual parents, I salute your courage to do something completely different. I know you are making a decision based on your child’s health. I know you are making the correct decision for your family.
This has to be the hardest decision we have ever had to make as parents. I have never seen my very logical, straight-forward husband go back and forth like he has with this one. He usually can see a clear solution. This time he can’t. I can’t. I don’t know many who can. If you see a clear solution, bravo! We cannot.
To those of you without children, please know… we know. There may be some of you who feel like I’m a snowflake, believing this virus is worse than the flu like an idiot. (You’re not correct, by the way, this is far worse than the flu, but that is for another time.)
There may be some of you who cannot believe we would make the choice to send them back. Don’t worry, I can’t either.
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is this: We don’t know what may happen to us at any time. We have very little control over what could happen to us on any given day.
We also have no control over the outcome. Sure, we can make decisions based on the science I so fully support. We can listen to the experts and do the best job possible.
So, on that note, that is what we are trying to do here. My husband has gone to work every day since this pandemic began. He did not work from home once. He has worn a mask and socially distanced. He does not have too many employees around him on a daily basis. He limits interaction.
We have not caught this virus yet.
So, we will hope that everyone else plays by the rules. We are scared about that because we live in a community that seems to have a majority who think this virus is no big deal for kids and that masks should not be mandatory. They let their kids go to Sonic, fill up the parking lot, hopping from car to car… WITH NO MASKS!
We have got to hope our leaders make the kids follow the rules. We have to trust that our kids will avoid situations that can expose them. We have to trust that they will grow from this and become stronger and more independent.
Parents out there: My heart goes out to you. This decision was not easy. Whatever you decided was probably not easy for you all. Just know this… I know there is no perfect answer. There is no easy way to measure the risk and say, “Aha! That’s what I should do!”
If there was, we’d all be doing the exact same thing.