Last week my daughter stepped inside her school building for the first time in six months. This week, my son will do the same. And I have to admit that as their mom, I was giddy with anticipation.
There has been a lot of togetherness during the pandemic. And while I honestly would not trade the opportunity I have had to spend more time with my family, it was a lot of togetherness with two preteens who just wanted to hang out with their friends and extended family. And, they wanted to be back in school and be challenged.
We all know that there wasn’t a lot of learning in the remote learning last spring. And I don’t blame anyone for that. Teachers sent students home in mid-March for two weeks. Six months later they returned. And many schools still do not have many – or any – students back in the buildings.
Tech woes have plagued Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional schools and many Westfield students couldn’t connect. I have seen many unkind social media posts about how “they had six months to figure this out.” But they didn’t. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education did not issue its guidelines to schools until July and they didn’t approve plans until August. While districts had several plans at the ready, guidelines were fluid and tweaked as administrators firmed up their plans. Add the shutdown of a major tech supplier in China into the mix and suddenly thousands of laptops ordered in what should have been plenty of time still have not been delivered.
And there is a lot we still don’t know. For months, experts have been talking about a second wave of COVID that will hit harder than the first. And just when Westfield hit its lowest new virus rate, it started to rise again and the health director points to teen athletes as the fastest growing group to test positive.
But still, I am thrilled to have my children back in school in the hybrid model: Two days in, three days remote. And the remote days are scheduled and more rigorous and challenging.
I asked my children if they were worried about going to school. My daughter’s biggest concern was having to wear a mask for extended periods of time. After her first day in-person at school, she said it wasn’t that bad. They have frequent mask breaks and brought the classroom outdoors when possible.
Just a week into school my daughter was talking about square roots and the solar system. My son was writing and being creative. They are seeing their classmates every day in some way. They are engaging with their teachers. They are back to routines and we are all loving it.