Follow up to “What do I do this fall?”

When I reread my post, I saw how this post can be misinterpreted.

But before I clarify let me be clear with what this blog is. This is a way for me to communicate with Nightwing and a place for me to remember. I read the blog daily.

The last post yesterday was written fast and literally on the go (in a car). Truly these conversations about your child schooling should happen one on one with each of you. Each of your personal situations is different. I’m just so stretched. Last week was a hospital week (immunotherapy- that is pure torture and I do alone. So Jacob was drugged for most of the week) AND Mind the Gap is LAUNCHING (HOORAY!). Oh, and I have two kids to homeschool too. So I apologize for the short cut.

But this week is not a hospital week so please do give me a call. I love all of you and want to be there for you…so CALL ME/ TEXT ME. I promise to call you back, even if I don’t personally know you. If you are reading this- I’m here for you! If you don’t have my number, find it. I’m sure you can call someone and get it.

My advice for the fall can be taken out of context. I am ONLY speaking in a COVID context ONLY. My advice is based on no therapeutics nor vaccine. Things can change. I pray things can change. However, as someone who spends her entire life looking at trials and possible cures for hard to cure diseases, I tend to have a more pessimistic view of that being a reality by start of school.

Without a major change in therapeutics and testing, schools should not open. However, I still think schools WILL open. We will do everything we can to restart the economy and childcare is imperative to that. Public schools will attempt to open and in return private will follow. But…they will again close. Rationally how can they not? With the knowledge we have about the virus and if nothing has changed, how can schools not become HOTSPOTS?

There are loads of models out there to attempt to reopen safely. Week on and week off models that put 50% of students in the school building at a time. But in NYC to properly social distance in our already smaller classrooms than the suburbs, I think it would require 25% capacity at a time. And how do you explain to a five-year-old that they can’t touch their friend? How does recess work? How do collaborative projects and play work?!

It doesn’t.

But let me be clear, when this thing is over, you put that kid back in school. Like immediately. I doubt I need to sell you on this. I’m sure you already feel the same, but I just want to be clear that I am SCHOOL ADVOCATE, obviously. I do NOT think parents can “teach” their children like a teacher. Nope. Impossible. Just the relationship alone between a parent and child sets you up for failure. In addition, a school is a place where children create their identities outside of the home. It is a place to experiment. It has HUGE benefits to development. It is a place to try things that you would never at home because someone inspiring shows you what you can be  (thank you teachers!). By no means was my last post saying that you can do what schools do. How could you?! You don’t have the training nor the resources to recreate school.

My last post was meant to say- Don’t worry about that! No one expects you to. And that it will be OKAY.  Kids are resilient and a year off is not the end of the world. And if you need that tuition for food, do THAT. Or if your child HATES online learning, forget it! Or if you are up in arms that you are paying that tuition for online learning, don’t do it!

JUST BREATH.

For children to return to school safely I believe the following needs to happen:

  1. No social distancing requirements. I just don’t see how any child younger than 8 can be expected to social distance. And to have teachers shouting across the room “Don’t touch him!” I think has very negative consequences for everyone. And the things that make school “a school” won’t exist. No morning circle. No community.
  2. The faculty and staff are ALSO being considered. That they are at no higher risk by school opening. We often forget about these saints and take them for granted when we press schools to open. 
  3. You can safely COMMUTE to school which in NYC means using mass transit.
  4. YOU are comfortable sending your child. This needs to be a personal call. The last thing a school needs is a parent who is challenging. They already have so much on their plates. If you send your child to school, you accept the terms the school is offering and leave it there. They can’t promise you that your child won’t get COVID, but I promise they will do everything in their power to mitigate that risk.

I also beg us parent to not judge each other. Some will not send their kids back to school even if they open. Some parents don’t feel comfortable returning to NYC for a long while. Some parents have no choices. This truly needs to be a personal family decision. No shaming each other!!

So thanks for letting me clarify. There is nothing not magical about early childhood years in school. But for me, safety is first and if you ask me a direct question I will always answer it truthfully.

And remember I’m cancer mom. I know that children are most likely going to be okay, but I never thought I would be the .001% that has a child with a rare cancer. I’m a statistical anomaly, but there is always one.

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