First day of school

My son will enter his last elementary school for the first time tomorrow. We moved a week into the pandemic and he started this school year at the neighborhood school; literally across the street from our house. He’s never been inside.

He’s in the 5th grade. He will be attending two days per week due to the district’s social distancing policies. I am glad he’ll get some in person school; beggars can’t be choosers right now. He’s getting more and more depressed and unmotivated being home for over a year. I hope he’ll meet some friends with families of similar risk assessments of our family.

I’m nervous. Not because I think he’ll catch COVID but because he’s entering a world I don’t have to. I’ve worked from home this whole time. I only need to wear a mask when I go out to the store which I don’t do often. I may never be in a position to wear a mask all day. My office has no plans to let folks back in on a regular basis. The rumors are that when it does happen it will be on a rotating basis and masked. If my favorite co-workers are on a different cycle than me, there’s no point. My son, on the other hand, will be masked for 6.5 hours with only a break for eating. It feels wrong to require him do something I won’t have to do. Parents shouldn’t ask that of their kids. No one should.

The teacher’s union that represents the majority of the staff considers him to be not a student but a vector of a fatal disease. He doesn’t know this, of course. But I do. I also know the statistics that staff transmits the virus to other staff in around 60% of the rare cases of in school transmission. They don’t seem to care about that. His very presence is a danger to their existence, they say. Will that idea cause them to treat hum differently? I don’t know this school or these teaches like I did at the old school that between both my boys we were at for 7 years.

Nothing about schools during COVID has been about children. Every policy has been adult centric. My state is in the the bottom 5 of students with access to in person learning. My county refuses to commit to 5 days in the fall. Children have sacrificed the most for a disease that affects them the least.

I know he’ll be fine. He’s not the first group of kids to return and anecdotally things are going great. Kids come home happy and lighter than they’ve been in over a year.

My oldest starts in two weeks for the same two days my youngest will be at school. The school system is staggering the starts; they are dragging their feet.

I’m glad they will be able to make friends and be in person with their teachers. I know how good it will be for them and for us. It’s just bittersweet.

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