Oops. Apparently almost a month has gone by.
As you know, I have been remote teaching my amazing, wonderful class of cheerful third graders. It is a lot of work and makes for long days on a computer. My typical work day is 9.5-10 hours and when I can finally close my laptop, I do not want to open it again for anything – even blogging. Overall, I would say that my students and I have been successful with this unusual format we have found ourselves in.
It helps that James joins our class from time to time.
But the powers that be have determined that we are going back to in person learning starting in one week, when we return from fall break. So not only have I been teaching, but I have been going on to campus to set up my classroom.
I am lucky my work commute is 6 minutes if I hit every traffic light green.
My district is offering a choice to return in person or remain on-line. Each grade level has a designated on-line teacher. Her class has been divided up amongst the rest of our team, who will be in person. I lost some of my sweet students and have gained some new ones.
There are 29 desks in my room, the (hopeful) cap for this year in my grade level, down from 32. Each desk is 3 feet apart and each chair 5 feet apart. My class size is currently holding at 22.
There are a slew of new rules and procedures. So as to not have to have us all unmasked and eating in our small, carpeted room, there are lunch zones, some in the cafeteria and some outside. We eat at a different zone each day. We also have a different recess zone each day. These then repeat the following week.
There are five designated times for handwashing throughout the day. If you assume 40 seconds for each of my current students, that equates to about 14 minutes each time, or 70 minutes a day. Of handwashing. Of which I will most certainly not skimp on. We are allowed to substitute hand sanitizer, but the former microbiologist in me would rather not.
Thankfully, we will all be wearing masks, except for the 15 minutes they are given to actively eat. They may also be mask-free if they social distance during recess.
There is a staggered start time. There is a staggered end time. I will have students arriving as early as 7:25 and as late as 7:50 depending on their mode of arrival and if they have younger siblings. The actual school day starts at 7:45.
Some students will leave as early as 2:15 depending again on mode and siblings. Some will leave at 2:20, some at 2:25. Some will be picked up (hopefully on time) by an after school program leader. Some will leave with me at 2:30 to wait in a designated holding area to be picked up by a parent who is not allowed to leave their car.
When they leave, I will sanitize. I will spray a cleaner that has been diluted 400x onto each cleared off desk where it will sit for at least 3 minutes before I can clean it off.
Today is my first day of fall break. I woke up at 5:02 and could not get back to sleep, all the pieces that make up a school day fluttering around my head.
I made coffee and took it out front to sit in a chair under our growing mesquite tree. It was dark, the sky punctured with stars, planets, the moon. During my second cup, a bird in the tree awoke and called out. His call was returned by others, also stepping foot from their nests and shaking the sleep from their feathers.
My workspace that was my connection to my students for one whole quarter looks different.
It is where I sit now, taking a break from creating student friendly schedules to post at the end of the school day so we all can get to where we need to be, when we need to be there.
Change is hard. I will not lie, in that I have a lot of anxiety about the return to in person school. I am taking all the safety precautions I can to protect my students, myself, and ultimately my family.
Lots of planning and taking it one day at a time.