The Cost of Returning to School


If you are reading this, I’m going to apologize upfront.  My recent posts don’t have a lot to do with sobriety, as it has taken a back seat in the midst of this pandemic.

Don’t worry, I’ve learned that even in the back seat, my addiction is doing push-ups. This means that while I’m not worried about drinking at the moment, that feeling can hit me at any moment and change my callus attitude towards alcohol.

But this post isn’t about drinking, it’s about my heart.

Teaching has broken my heart twice in thirteen years.

Back in January 2010, our governor took away school funding and consequently I was laid-off completely out of the blue one Friday morning.  The principal told me to come back on Saturday and get my stuff.  I wasn’t even able to say bye to my students, and I cried all the way home.

It made me stronger.

My heart is broken again by this profession. It’s not the kids, the administration, the testing or curriculum, although these are what you might typically think when you think about complaining about education.

I can’t take the politics of it, I’m beyond tired of everyone saying that schools need to open.  Some people are saying that they should get a tax refund because their child participated in school from home for awhile.

This is where I’m at with the whole We need to open schools come hell or high water stance.

I agree, many kids need to come to school.  But at what cost?

We’ve all seen changes everywhere and these all have come with a cost. My doctor’s office, which normally triple books is only working at a fraction of the normal capacity, taking the time to carefully disinfect and take the precautions necessary.  I could go on and on giving you examples of changes because of COVID precautions.

I’m seeing some changes at school this summer that is promising.  My friend teaches summer school and feels safe and protected, although she sees the students individually and thoroughly disinfects after each child.  She currently has the resources she needs to be safe.

What is safe?

Plexiglass is safe, it can be disinfected and can stop germs from spreading across the room. Plus, it’s fairly inexpensive, so it’s doable, right?  Sure, unless you are the unlucky person who teaches in this local district:

Cardboard?  Can that even be disinfected? Really?

In this district parents can opt out of daily temperature checks for their child. Would you want your child to attend this school?

Will the poorer districts see more fatalities because of poor cleaning procedures and lack of safety equipment?

This feels eerily like a colossal science experiment, where no one really knows what is going to happen.  Science has shown that kids aren’t commonly affected by the Coronavirus, so they should be fine.

I think students will be okay, for the most part, if we practice the same social distancing routines that we’ve been doing since March. The only thing is that, some schools don’t have this capability.  You can’t turn a dollar into a million, you just can’t.

I’m kind of a jerk because I have been feeling relieved that so many districts in the south go back a month before us.  I thought they would be the guinea pigs.  But, the friends I know in the south have had their start date pushed back a month.

So we’re all going to be the guinea pigs.

I’m not really afraid of getting Coronavirus and dying, except for feeling bad for my family. But the thought of losing just one student, or or just one colleague to something that we could have prevented makes me cry.

If you had asked me about my school’s resources before the Coronavirus, I would have complained. I would have told you that our School Social Worker is only at our school for 1.5 days, and the half day is usually spent in meetings. She has one day to fit in all of the students on her caseload. Consequently, if a student who is not on her caseload needs to see a social worker, he or she is going to have to wait. I would have told you that our academic support caseloads are too high and we don’t have enough staff.

I can’t imagine having even less resources than before, but with all of the extra precautions and personal protection equipment school will now require, I can’t see most public schools meeting their most basic needs, let alone keeping Corona under control.







Published by Organic Revival

I am a mom of boys, wife, furmom, gardner, walker, runner, teacher, reader, writer and cook. I am 42 years old and live in the beautiful state of Michigan. I love my job as an elementary special education teacher. The most remarkable quality of mine is that I'm a recovering alcoholic.

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