The word came down earlier this week: We would be returning to school the week of January 25th. That was the lightning bolt. What followed after that was a series of rolling thumps of thunder that underscored the challenges ahead.
For example, the very first bullet point referred to our current purple status, meaning California and its counties is stuck in the most restrictive phase of COVID-19 protocols. Masks everywhere. Overnight curfews. Non-essential work and activities must stop between ten at night until five in the morning. I suppose this is good news for those in the education biz, since most of our business gets done after five and before ten. We could probably squeeze in some of that reading, writing and 'rithmatic before the sun goes down.
Then comes the ugly reality of managing a herd of children whose attention spans vary greatly, from none to laser focus. Recently it was New York City's Mayor Bill DeBlasio who suggested that bringing in the youngest students would be the easiest to wrangle, since "they follow directions." Now I wonder just who, among our five to eleven year olds, will adhere to social distancing. These kids haven't seen each other except on a screen for nine months. No tag. No hugs. No high fives. Keep your masks over your nose and mouth except when you are at the water fountain. Wait. Check that. Skip the water fountain. And definitely don't share anything at lunch. Ever.
But we all knew this was coming. And somewhere along this great long line, someone had to pull a date out of the air and make it a target. A target for parents, teachers, staff, and students to throw things at. In an excited and not altogether negative way. The teachers at our site are all anxious to return to our classrooms and greeting kids at the door with the prospect of moving them from wherever they are to where they ought to be by the end of the year.
Does everyone involved understand that this is a best-case-scenario built in the worst-case-time? Many. Maybe most. The challenge awaits with those who live on either end of the return to school spectrum. There will be parents who resist sending their children back to our grand experiment. There will be teachers who will refuse to work unless they can be assured that everything is safe. There will be parents dropping their kids off at our front door on January 25th regardless what the actual circumstances are and how this scheme plays out. And we will have to continue doing the job as best as we can: teacher, principal, custodian, admin assistant, playground supervisor, parent, student, superintendent. And if we seem like we're making it up as we go along, it's because we are.
Every day is a new day.