Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Ok, so maybe one more post about school

 So, like, there's the very understandable sentiment afoot that COVID is here to stay, and we need to figure out how to live with it because we will never have zero cases, blah blah blah. And, most people I know are interpreting that to mean SEND YOUR UNVACCINATED KIDS BACK TO SCHOOL despite a really contagious strain of the virus ripping through your community, and I just feel like maybe? That's not the right interpretation.

Maybe for us, normal is school at home (our district does not have a virtual option for elementary schoolers, just for KIDS OLD ENOUGH TO BE VACCINATED, and I cannot even type that without turning into the head exploding emoji) but also dance team, swim team, baseball, and dive team. What is the point of having the privilege of time and resources if I am just going to send them off like lambs to the slaughter?

I hav to tell you, it was pictures of a cute little swim team social event on Facebook that made my excitement about the school year finally crumble. 

I have been telling myself all of the things everyone is telling themselves: my district has a mask mandates; over half my family is vaccinated; vaccine rates in my county are really high; my giant university found no evidence of COVID spreading in academic settings last year, so probably the same can be said of K-12; no one is in after care or riding the bus, etc.

(And the kids, by the way! They really  want to go back. Cooper also really  wants to eat Cocoa Pebbles for every meal, so, like, they aren't great at translating desire to policy, but whatever.)

Then, fall sports season started at the high school, and I saw pictures of swim team members at a team event unmasked and cheek-to-cheek and I thought oh no. WHAT DOES THE AFTER PARTY LOOK LIKE? And that's girls' swimming. What about boys' football? The parent parties. The kid parties. Pre-gaming at bars. Students at games. 


We don't need school to be childcare. We have the access to time and resources for them to learn at home. They do not have to go to school. As I write this, I realize that even though I think the high school is the riskiest place to be, I am more worried about my two little kids. Like, I think Harry and Jack will be OK and will wear their masks, and the vaccine will still offer them protection, etc. It just seems like such a bad idea to send unvaccinated kids to in-person school.

Or does it?

Is the little voice telling me to keep them home just my anxiety? Should I listen to it or tell it to shut up?

Here is what I am doing:

Focusing on what I can control.

I can control the quality of masks I buy. I can control making sure no one rides the bus. I can control what extra curricular activities everyone joins. I can control making a backup plan for the family if the school situation becomes untenable. I can set up a plan for when we would change school options ahead of time, so I don't make a reactive, less rational decision. I can decide my elementary schoolers are not doing unmasked lunch and recess and pick them up for an hour midday to eat and run around, especially on bad weather days. I can follow people I disagree with on social media (anti-maskers, for example) and see that they are kind, loving people who also want the best for their kids.

What are you doing to feel good about the school year?


  1. I think your plan is spot on. We definitely needed the childcare component, and my kids were ready to go back. My littlest, who struggled with distance learning SO MUCH, is blossoming in the classroom. My middle one, who is very anxious in general, is doing well, staying masked, and I'm seeing her anxiety go down. My oldest? Well, for him he definitely needed/wanted to go back and he's a good barometer for how well the vaccine is holding.

    I have really embraced your "risk budget" idea. We're being conservative about extracurriculars, especially unmitigated party type activities. I'm shameless in asking about masking and vaccination statuses. Sports and get togethers are outdoors. We got burned on our carpool arrangement, so we're back to no car rides with friends, even masked. Essentially, I fully acknowledge that I'm spending most of my kids' budgets on school and for now that's the right choice for us.

  2. Thank you for this. I’m also worried and spending our risk budget at school….