Oy vey, someone get me some Pepto Bismol stat because my stomach feels like it’s full of a swarm of butterflies that all have Montezuma’s Revenge. Why? Because we have until next Tuesday to decide whether to send our kiddos back to school in person.
It’s weird because I kinda know my decision already, but I’m still agonizing over it and 5% of me thinks I might go the other way. Technically we don’t have to decide until next week so I can still go back on it if I want to. And forward and back and forward and back because I’m sure I’m going to change my mind like a thousand times.
ME: (8:00) Do you think it’s the right decision?
MY HUBBY: I don’t know.
ME: (8:15) Do you think it’s the right decision?
MY HUBBY: I still don’t know.
ME: (8:30) Now do you think it’s the right decision?
MY HUBBY: Yes.
ME: Are you just saying yes so I’ll leave you alone?
MY HUBBY: Maybe.
And here’s the thing, no matter what we decide, it’s NOT the right decision. Because there is NO right decision. Every decision feels wrong right now. And that sucks. Our district is offering us two choices:
- Fulltime in-person school and risk our kids (and us) getting coronavirus
- Fulltime e-learning from home and risk our kids’ education and mental health
And we have to stick with whatever decision we make until winter break. Don’t get me wrong, our district seems to be doing EVERYTHING right, but unfortunately they’re not wizards who can magically protect our kiddos from the pandemic, or magically make e-learning the same as in-person school. They have been tackling this logistical nightmare all summer and I worship the ground they walk on for doing it.
So every family is forced to make the best decision they can. For themselves. Without judgement from anyone else. Well, WITH judgement from lots of asshats on Facebook who feel the need to make a-holey comments, so I’ve stopped reading Facebook. Anyways, here is how we are making this monumental decision in our family.
Every afternoon I visit a website. The Illinois Department of Health, and I look at two things. The first thing I look at is yesterday’s numbers, including the number of positive cases in Illinois AND the positivity rate. The next thing I do is go look at the numbers in our zip code. It seems like most days are between 0 and 5 new cases. I’m feeling pretty darn good about the numbers in our area. But let’s just say if those numbers start to tick up quickly or something, you better bet that’ll affect our decision.
The District’s Plans
There were a number of things that I wanted to know before I decided anything. Like can I dress them in oxygenized astronaut suits and would the school please put them through a hand sanitizer shower as they’re leaving the building every day? No and no. Crap. But seriously, there were a bunch of safety measures I was looking for.
Are they going to be able to sit at least six feet apart from the other students? The answer: yes. We’re lucky. Our buildings are big and we have a lot of staff, so classes will be 15 kids or lower and the desks will be very spaced apart.
Will kids and staff be wearing masks? The answer: yes. With the understanding that wearing a mask all day is hard so the staff will be getting the kids outside to give them mask breaks. They even invested in huge tents in case it’s raining.
The Ventilation System
Will the ventilation system be upgraded? The answer: yes. They’re upping the system to the maximum amount of fresh air it can pump in.
A Crapload of other Measures too
Seriously, there are like a million other things they had to think about, from deep cleaning every night, to how to handle bathroom breaks, to how do they walk down the hallways, to temperature checks, to lunchtime etc etc etc etc etc. Hundreds of hours of thought have gone into making this as safe as possible. Not perfect, but as safe as possible. Am I scared shitless? Yes. Am I scared so much I’m shitting bricks? Yes. See? My butt doesn’t even know what to do.
The last thing I looked at was MY kiddos. What do they need? And it’s clear. Zoey especially. My kids need to be with their peers. Not on a zoom call. Not on bikes. Not on Facetime. They need to be sitting, learning, reading, laughing, playing, talking with other kids their age. As much as I can do almost everything for them at home, I can’t do that. Not all kids are like this, but mine are.
So we’ve made our decision. Back they go. And when there is a Covid-19 case in the school, we will get a letter about it. Just like a lice letter or a strep letter or a whooping cough letter. Only not.
Because this letter will be about a pandemic that’s killing hundreds of thousands of people. And at that moment I will truly question our choice to send our kids back to school. Even though I know in my heart that it’s the best decision for our family. Not the right decision. The best decision. The same way everyone is making the best decision for their own families. That’s really all we can do. And just hope it’s okay.
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