The countdown to return to work continues. I am a public school teacher in Middle Tennessee. Our state is quickly moving up the worldometer COVID-19 tracker. Over the course of about a week, our state moved from 17th to 14th. All of the counties in our state had to submit a “continuous learning plan” this week. This plan was to address how school will be handled this year. The plan in my county is to provide choice to parents. They can send their kids to school (masks not required), or select remote learning.
That is the meat of the plan! The individual school plans I have seen so far, call for daily temperature checks and screening questions of everyone who enters the building. We are to “encourage” hand washing, and distance kids as much as we can. Teachers are to sanitize high touch areas throughout the day. If a teacher or student has symptoms, they are sent home. I need to note here that the guidance ends with a vague statement. How long do we stay home? A student is one thing, but if a teacher is sent home, who will take the students? There is already a severe shortage of substitute teachers!
Our school board is suppose to meet tomorrow night to address some of the questions. They have already said that there won’t be answers, and that they are just opening the conversation. I am not a doctor or lawyer, but it seems that if there isn’t more to the county’s plan than this, it is not time to return all the kids to school in person. Testing and tracing is lagging here, taking 7-10 days to get test results back for Covid-19. There is no disinfectant to be found in local stores, so even if we (teachers) wanted to provide our own supplies, they can not be found! There are so many safety issues that have not been addressed, that it is embarrassing. I love my job, my schools, and the people I work with. My heart hurts to know where this is headed. I really feel like my particular job is potentially much safer than that of some of my friends.
I saw this decision guide today, and it might help some families make some decisions. As both a public school teacher and homeschooling parent, I know the struggle. While I love both, I realize that I need support for some aspects of homeschooling. It isn’t as simple as buying a cute curriculum and joyfully sitting with your child in a “homeschool” class. I wish it worked as simply as that! The best support we have found is having a tutor. I will be writing about this soon. There are private hybrid schools and co-ops that may work, depending on the students and teachers. For us, a one on one tutor is what was needed, and even with that, finding a tutor who connects well with the child is even more important than the content being taught.
I like to think that there is no need to worry. I usually let most everything roll right away without triggering anxiety. In this case, I haven’t been able to do that. I don’t want to see anyone suffer needlessly in our schools because of the reactive rather than proactive plan from our leaders.