We are two weeks into our new school year. The boys are in person this year as they are vaccinated. They also ride the city bus to and from school, a new experience they have already mastered. I am so proud of them for being flexible and brave.
I am teaching, in person as well, still wearing a mask. My school district, deciding to follow CDC guidelines and science backed research, went against our state’s no mask mandate for schools. It looks good from the outside, but there is an “anyone can opt out” form that does not require a reason, just a signature. 20% of my class is unmasked. There have been 31 confirmed COVID cases on campuses throughout my district so far, nine days in. There are five at my school, compared to not a one for all of last year. (Last year, we had a population which were on campus all year, as well as in person learning for over a quarter – fully masked.) These are positive COVID cases of children, unable to get the vaccine. I feel it is just a matter of time that I will have students quarantining or we end up back online. I have already prepped my students so they know how to access our Google Classroom and open assignments. It makes me sad. And it makes me tired.
I am simply focusing on what I can do. I mask. We wash our hands or use hand sanitizer every time we enter the our classroom. I have adjusted my seating chart to optimize safety.
And then I teach on. My class is already mine in my heart. I adore them all, even the ones who struggle (struggle to not blurt out, struggle to focus, struggle to keep their bodies to themselves, struggle to be respectful, struggle to socialize, so much struggling) . Perhaps I adore those kiddos even a little bit more because they need it.
Last year, in order to keep going and stay somewhat sane, my mantra was “Next school year will be better.” But I am not sure that is going to be the case.
I stumbled upon this quote last week that I think will be my new mantra for this school year:
“It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it.” Lena Horne.
I know nothing about Lena Horne, but those words stopped me in my tracks and made me really think. I need to readjust my load so that it is evenly distributed and does not leave me hunched over, looking down and not forward.