School Reopening Plans for Music: Anyone? Anyone?

What a crazy few days. Family losses have a way of consuming your mind and presenting very big, often longstanding issues, whether yours or someone else's—confirming for me that the letting-it-go-and-shrugging-it-off thing is a fabulous survival technique and a true key to happiness. In case you're wondering after the last post, yes, it is super sad. But I'm ok. You? I've missed you. Did you miss me? No? Ok, that's fine. I'll write anyway. Writing is a practice. I made a promise to you and to me, and so I keep it.

Today, we bring you: School in The Time of Pandemic. 

Let's talk about schools opening in September. What does it feel like for a teacher? Well, there's been a lot—and I mean A LOT—of discussion on Facebook among teachers. I happen to have quite a few teachers in my "friend" list for obvious reasons, and my goodness most of them seem horrified and afraid to go back. Actually, maybe enraged and concerned is a better description. But... there is so much discussion  and so much emotion with so little influence over the actual outcome that I personally have ducked out of the conversation. Every day, I peek into that blasted, malignant addiction we call Facebook briefly, read a teacher's or parent's ranting post, then I reach for a scrap of self control. I shudder and quickly shut the app back down. Rinse, lather, repeat. I'm down to 12 minutes a week. 

Oh, school. What is going to be is going to be, and though there has been a handful of people that have participated in reopening committees over the summer, overall it feels like teachers' opinions as a whole have little influence over the decisions being made. So we have to make our own decisions about our own lives. 


So what is ahead for teachers and students? There have been physical plant improvements, we're told, and HVACs installed in some of our limping, antique buildings. (I think I read that, anyway. Maybe I imagined it.) Catching the virus is not my biggest fear about going back. I will mask, I will wash my hands frequently, I'll take my vitamins. Nurses, restaurant staff, and retail have been back at work for months and there doesn't appear to have been a major uptick in those sectors. As a teacher, I'm not complaining about the risk to my own health. (That may be a very unpopular opinion. It's ok.)

But... what about the kids?  Distance and masks: it's pretty impossible. And what about the school environment? Six year old children sitting at the same desk all day, including lunch, and not able to turn and talk or have physical contact. What will it be like learning in that environment? Will it be possible to learn? It's bare. A custodian told me that rooms have been cleaned out. Teacher desks and file cabinets that have lived in the school for decades have been dumpstered. Walls have been stripped. There is nothing in classrooms but brand new desks. All those posters, all that color, all that life: I'm told that it's all gone to the dump. 

And then there's the music. 

The state says that music teachers cannot teach wind instruments inside the building. Ok... so.... that's my job: to teach wind instruments. Last I heard, two weeks ago, was that someone was looking into tents to teach outdoors, and recent correspondence indicated that secondary schools are being prioritized for that anyway. But the elementary kids? The winter? Rain? Wind? One school I teach at is 100 yards from the ocean. The wind howls. And how could I possibly pull kids from their classroom? We can't really do that. 

Teachers report back in two weeks. So... um... anything we should know? Anyone have any idea of what we'll be doing next year? 

And then, there's childcare. Plymouth is hybrid. Kids in two days a week, at home three. How does a teacher who has to be in five days a week, even with the hybrid model, deal with their childcare, never mind helping their own young child with lessons at home? The teens are fine, but the littles need help. How are families going to do this? Does one parent quit their job? What if one income is not enough for a family? And what about that pandemic assistance anyway? So, um.... Anyone? Anyone? 

Such an impossibly complex problem and so many unanswered questions we are all asking. Grateful that I am not the one to have to make all the decisions. But at home, we still do have to make one very important decision: What do we personally want to do about our own kids? 

Stay tuned, right? Any story that ends with "Well, we'll just have to wait and see..." almost always sets us up for a sequel. Get the popcorn ready. Except we're not just watching; we are the movie. 

NOTE: I promise a much more positive outlook on this same issue tomorrow! Even generally positive people need to vent, yes? I know and believe that many good things can happen. I swear.