Saturday, November 21, 2020

School Decisions in the Time of Covid

This week—midweek—for a multitude of reasons including a few Covid cases, our Head of School & the Board of Trustees decided that yesterday (the Friday before Thanksgiving) we would “put a pause” on our hybrid school schedule. We have been in hybrid since the beginning of the school year, which has looked like this:

- Preschool to Grade 1 have been fully in session with the exception of a handful of families that opted to go remote. 

- Grade 2-5 have been in either as  Monday-Wednesday cohorts or Tuesday-Thursday cohorts, with every-other-Fridays (again, with some opting to go full remote)

- Grade 6-12 have been strict every-other-day cohorts of A & B in addition to the few full-remote-ers.

My colleagues and I (along with much of America) have been watching the Covid curve and the counts. Many of us educators who have been "going in" daily gave a little “hallelujah” when the decision was made--mainly because we are slightly "Covid-creeped out." Additionally, our few positive Covid cases combined with the contract tracing has really hit our teacher coverage hard, as some teachers were forced into quarantine along with students. Looking at the curve/case count now versus where we were in March  when everything shut down, our country has frighteningly surpassed where we were in lockdown by at least three-fold!

I will admit in my house, we are a science-following family & we “trend cautious” when it comes to Covid, mask wearing, distancing, & the like. Thanksgiving is less than a week away. (Mind-boggling!) As a family, we have already canceled our traditional, larger FamFest gathering due to the numbers & the late-breaking regional restrictions which are calling for indoor gatherings of less than 10. 

As I was leaving school both Thursday (with one of our Lower School hybrid cohorts) and Friday (with the other), knowing that Friday would be our last in-house day for awhile, I was struck in many ways. I glanced at my wall calendar, reminded of how it felt to walk in this August and see my wall calendar still welcoming March. As students were leaving both days this week, I wondered when they truly would be returning. As faculty and staff, we have been scurrying the last two days to prep the kids with all of those last minute tech skills and send the kids home with copious learning packets, ready for the unknown.

As teachers, we will be using our two pre-Thanksgiving days as planning for full-time remote, and (as of now) we are planning to be remote for the week following Turkey Day. Sadly, with Covid and the jadedness that comes with age, I have become a cynic. I do not trust people to do the right thing at Thanksgiving.... just as my social media thread has shown me “they” didn’t do the right thing at Halloween. I predict we will be in remote learning longer than just that week. I feel the Covid numbers in general will grow--in the same way we saw our local cases crop up following Halloween, largely due to rumored out-of-school events, often unmasked. Luckily, I have remained “quarantine-free”—though some of my colleagues who had to enter their second bout of quarantine based solely on the behavior of others to whom they were exposed. For some, the late timing of their "quarantine sentence" has now affected their own personal, family Thanksgiving.

This fall has already been so hard, exhausting, and often very much up in the air for teachers. For those of us physically in school, we were juggling our students zooming in from home with those masked in class around us--all while feeling like we were in the middle of a hot zone. My heart goes out to our health care professionals who are facing a similar situation as essential workers, though made more difficult to matters being ones of  life and death. As a very divided country where mask wearing has become political, it’s frustrating to those of us who are following every rule carefully to flatten the curve. But not everyone is. I found it is especially striking recently while discussing the Bill of Rights with our fourth graders. We looked at those first 10 Amendments through the relevant lens of recent news... including mask wearing in the time of Covid. 

I'm reminded of our transition to the remote learning of the spring, when it was so hard then. And yet, now we see, hybrid teaching is even harder, and we have chuckled upon that realization--who would have  thought in March we would ever have said anything could be harder! Now, 8 months later, at the end of our Fall trimester, we realize how lucky (and surprised) we have been to have made it to this point of the school year--making it all the way to Thanksgiving! We managed to stay in session with our hybrid format and our protocols far longer than many of us ever thought we could. Many schools were not able to open in person to any degree this fall. THAT certainly garners some gratitude. 

I pray for grace for us all for the winter ahead with Covid and its germs looming here in the middle of cold and flu season. May the verminous germs stay at bay. And, may we collectively make decisions that take us all into account, helping us all take care of each other until the vaccine goes into effect!

Stay safe out there!

Crossroads meme created at, mask cartoon, Covid curve, mask from

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