For my post covering the letter O, I chose the topic “Open” to write about.
The school district I work for decided to open for in person learning at the start of this school year. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, but I was certain it didn’t matter because I assumed we would have an outbreak of COVID and be closed in 2 weeks. We are now half way through April, and we are still open.
In hindsight, I am thrilled we opened and have stayed open. Even with all the mitigations in place — masks, social distance, constant sanitizing, etc. — it has been good educationally and emotionally for students as well as teachers, I think. Even as weird as things were, there was something to be said for the little bit of normalcy we had being back in school. Yes, we had students and staff who came down with COVID, but we were also fortunate enough not to have any cases directly attributable to spread at school (some people find this hard to believe — and maybe it is — but in my opinion, it’s entirely possible. I have the advantage of being able to visit many classrooms all around the district, and what I can tell you is the teachers and students alike were very good at following the rules put in place, so I think it is entirely possible we didn’t have any transmission at school. Maybe I’m a fool.)
All that being said, I also don’t criticize any schools that stayed closed or teachers who work in other districts who didn’t feel comfortable coming back. The truth is the district I work in had enough physical space to be able to create smaller class sizes to allow for social distancing, and we had enough money to hire extra staff, subs, and custodians as well as to purchase PPE and more sanitizing products than you could imagine. Not all schools could afford to do this, so I refuse to criticize. We were able to make it work; not everyone was able to do that.
Next year looks like we might be able to be back to even a little more normalcy — we won’t have to spread out as much, we won’t have to self-certify our health, kids can do things like P.E. and art. I’m looking forward to it.