Back to School 2020: Navigating the New Normal

Back to school sure looks different than in years past! Never did I think homework, PE shoes, lunch and now MASK would be on our morning checklist! We ended last school year virtually, so it was hard to know what this return would look. I know it looks different across the country and even within states depending on where you live. Here in rural northwestern Montana our kids are back in class with masks, but with a plan ready to switch to virtual if needed. So we are cautiously taking it day by day, and after the first week I thought it would be interesting to sit down and ask my kids Braxton age 11 in 6th grade and Kenley age 9 in 5th grade, what these first days were like through their eyes!

KENLEY:

How was your first week back? “Weird, good!

Why “weird”? “Some of my friends decided to stay home for the first semester and I miss them!”

But are you glad to be back? “Masks are hot, and kind of annoying and we have to eat lunch in our classroom and only play with our class at recess… but I want to see my friends and teachers so I’m glad we are back!”

*** As a precaution at our small school the teachers scan temperatures when the students enter the building, they eat lunch in their classrooms instead of the lunchroom and each class has a designated section of the playground so they don’t mingle with other classes to limit exposure.

BRAXTON:

How was your first week back? “Great! I love middle school, I have a huge locker this year and we switch classes plus I get so see my friends! I miss some who didn’t come back, but I’m so glad to be there! Not really glad for school, but to see my friends!”

What about the masks? “I don’t like them, but after awhile you sort of forget they are there!

What are you most looking forward to? “Sports! Football is so fun right now and then basketball this winter, I just hope they let us play!

***In our current phase 2, sports are happening but they are limiting the spectators to 2 per family to keep crowds smaller. Not ideal, but if they can play it’s worth the trade off.

Which did you like better… VIRTUAL or In Class With Masks??

KENLEY: “In class for sure… sorry MOM!” 🤣

BRAXTON: “Being at school, I’m way funnier in person than over video!” 🤣🤦‍♀

In all seriousness, I send my love to all the parents, teachers and administrators faced with the many hard decision this year and no clear answers! You are all doing your best and we thank you!!

Teachers have always been rockstars in my eyes, I know ours went above and beyond last spring to quickly pivot to virtual and they have been amazing this fall even with so many extra responsibilities on their shoulders!

If you are a teacher, THANK YOU from our family! We have several teachers in our family and I hear the challenges they are facing and their worries for their students needs and their own families too! Teachers do this important work because of their love for the kids and even under normal conditions you are not paid nearly enough and now with even more challenges they are handling it all with such grace!!

Hopefully, we as parents can have patience and return that grace to our teachers and staff, they are doing their best and so much of the confusion and mandates are truly out of their control!! Let’s be allies as we navigate this new normal together.

If you are the “teacher” this year give yourself some grace too! It’s a hard job, but an important one for sure! Thanks for taking it on!