Dipping Our Toe Back into School.

Yesterday, our son returned to school for the first time in over a month. Sure, school holidays were thrown into the mix for two weeks, but they didn’t feel like school holidays, anymore than school from home really feels like school. Moreover, without leaving the house for the usual dance, violin and scout runs, it doesn’t feel like term time either. Indeed, so much of the scaffolding which keeps our lives together and provides this strange reassurance called “routine” is gone. That said, my husband is working from home and I’m still beavering away on my WWI research and writing.

Meanwhile, it’s change of seasons and it’s cooling down here in Australia. Indeed, I’m spending my days snuggled up in my PJs all wrapped up in my dressing gown, which even had a hood. However, I’m far from idle. Well, to be honest, that depends on which part of the day you find me. My hours have gone dramatically out of kilter and I’m getting to bed around 2.00-3.00am and waking up at lunchtime. But, hey. At least, I have a routine. It’s just not a very good one and it is something I’m at least working to change in theory.

As you’re no doubt aware, how to manage school and education during the coronacrisis has become a can of worms. My husband works in IT for Macquarie University in Sydney and on the few occasions he’s gone into the office, he’s said the place is a ghost town with bands of starving, marauding magpies descended on this solitary human in large, hopeful flocks. Uni is largely running online, aside from researchers who might need to go in to work to maintain whatever’s going on in the lab. A friend of ours in first year has mentioned his disappointment that the university life he’s long been looking forward to, has dried up and gone online. I remember what all of that was all about, and it was far more important than anything we learnt inside our lectures. So, I can definitely empathize with his disappointment.

Meanwhile, schools in NSW opened up one day a week for all students this week. We decided to send our 16 year old son who is in his second last year of school yesterday, but kept his 14 year old sister at home. These thought processes recognized the individual needs of our kids, the way things were being structured for the different age groups and also acknowledged the fact that the virus is still around. That while our stats are impressively good, there’s still that potential for the virus  to get out of the box. Moreover, since we’ve largely contained the spread, we haven’t anything approaching herd immunity, if that’s even achievable. So, we still need to be careful and our current status has been described as “precarious”. They’re expecting outbreaks, but they’re hoping to contain them through the tracking app (even if that doesn’t help you once you’ve caught the virus!)

Anyway, I thought teachers and parents in particular would be interested to hear how yesterday went. The first thing which really surprised me, was just how keen he was to get to school. Aside from visiting my parents on Mother’s Day, he hasn’t been outside for at least two weeks and had become some kind of extension of his computer screen. Yet, yesterday morning the night owl was up at 6.00 am bright-eyed and bushy tailed, through the shower and chose to actually WALK to school. It seems Sunday’s trip had woken him up and he was keen to get back out there again and really seemed to miss school and was keen to get back.

The school had put a lot of thought and preparation into making the school environment safe. Students have been divided up alphabetically to return one day a week and there’s a ratio of one teacher to nine students, giving ten in the classroom. There was a space of two desks in between students. There’s hand sanitizer going in and out as well as wiping down your desk along with no moving around between classrooms. They’re being absolutely vigilant and caring for the well-being of students and teachers as you would your own family. I am so grateful for that, particularly given my own vulnerability. I don’t want to be putting my own health needs before the kids’ education. Understandably, that’s become a huge strain. Indeed, I freely admit that I’ve felt the burden of Atlas on my shoulders at times. So, it’s been such a relief to have that burden eased.

Of course, I was full of questions as soon as our son walked in the door yesterday afternoon. He was my eyes and ears out in the real world…our intrepid reporter. Most of his friends were either allocated to different days, or were working from home, but he did see one close friend.

However, what really stood out to him yesterday was the silence…the absolute silence. He said he could even hear the trains going past, when usually all he can hear is the horn.  Somehow, that teeny little fragment of his day felt really precious…a truly unique and precious eyewitness statement, which was completely untarnished by other people’s opinions and observations. That’s what stood out to him, and as his mum who doesn’t often gets the details, I was over the moon.

So, now I’d like to hand the floor over to you and invite you to share how school is going in your neck of the woods. Just like it’s fascinating to try foods from different countries, how we do school is another intriguing point of difference, which is being made more interesting under the strain of the virus. I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

I’m also very conscious that our situation here in Australia is exceptionally good here in Australia, and our hearts go out to you who are experiencing the worst and are losing loved ones and living under siege. We carry you in our prayers and in our hearts and send our love!

Best wishes,

Rowena

6 thoughts on “Dipping Our Toe Back into School.

  1. kristin

    Here in the USA, where the situation is not at all good, we are just entering the end of the school year in Georgia. My grandkids are mostly finished with exams. The college students plan to take summer classes at home. My elementary school teacher daughter just went in and packed up her classroom after working from home for several months.

  2. Rowena Post author

    Thanks for sharing with me, Kristen, because I really am interested to know what people in other places are doing. We never had that capacity in the past and all we had was our own small patch of ground to consider.
    Apparently, my son’s school has taken a more cautious approach and other schools aren’t observing much in the way of social distancing. Even though we’ve really got transmissions right down, the virus is still out there and it’s through being cautious that we’ve done so well.
    Was it hard for your daughter to pack up her classroom? I remember helping my kids’ teachers pack up classrooms at the end of the year when they’ve had a change, and it’s been like moving house. They’ve had so much stuff.

  3. Rowena Post author

    I have been challenged at times to keep smiling but my wacky sense of humour’s also been coming out of the closet at times too and that’s helped.
    Ironically, quite a few things for us have improved significantly during this lock down period. We now have a back lawn and lemons growing on the tree and Geoff won a few pallets of barely used floating floorboards at an auction and has gone off to collect them. He’s had to empty out the back shed and rearrange the garage to store them and is working like a trojan. Next step, we’ll be emptying the house out a room at a time to replace the floors. This job is almost 20 years overdue and I cant wait even though the transitions going to be painful.
    How are things at your end? Hope you’re okay.
    Best wishes,
    Ro

  4. kristin

    My daughter said that because she has moved classrooms so often in the past few years and only been in this one a year, it was pretty easy to pack up. And she’s moving to a new school whenever they go back. They split the school based on grades and the 5th grade, which is the one she teaches, will be at the other school.

  5. New Journey

    My daughter works at the Junior College and no one has gone back to work, they are all working from home. Morning meetings at 9a on zoom and through out the day individually on zoom. They also use texting alot with a quick question. She said it took a couple weeks to even feel like it was starting to become normal, getting up, breakfast, she still gets dressed like she going into the office, makeup hair, zoom, will make that happen, lol she takes her lunch break and then back to work. the new norm as she says. Her husband works for the county. He goes in a few days a week, or out to a site that he’s in charge of. He also works from home. Its been a new way of dealing with work for sure, they are just happy that they were able to keep there jobs. xxk

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