This has been the strangest year of my teaching career. Having moved to a new school this year, and one that is radically different from the schools at which I’ve taught in in the past, I expected some newness and oddities. But this has far exceeded my expectations.
I missed nearly two months with my students while I was on administrative leave. That was awful. It was anxiety-inducing for me and challenging for all of them. Far from ideal. Now we’re out for an indefinite period (I will not be too shocked if we don’t return this year). Things are feeling very unsettled and stressful. Again.
And all of my emotions come from a pretty lucky place. My husband and I will both continue to be paid. I am home with our children. He’ll be home some, definitely far more than his norm. We have a large enough house that we can all spread out and have our own space if we feel we need it. We have plenty of devices and solid internet. Our pantries and fridge are well stocked. We even have (I think) plenty of toilet paper. But there is still plenty of anxiety for all of us. I can only imagine what that is like for people who do not have all the things we are lucky enough to have.
Our youngest is 13 and an introvert. Her take on this is that she’s been prepping her whole life for such a time period. Being isolated from others is just fine. Our oldest, at 16, is our extrovert. This is harder for her. But both of them firmly believe we need to stay physically isolated as much as we can. They think of their young cousin who died two years ago, at the age of 5, because he was unable to get the flu vaccine, got sick, and things went as wrong as they could go. Herd immunity and making sacrifices for the sake of others who are at higher risk are things our children feel strongly about.
They’re hearing from friends about gatherings or parties. They’re seeing photos on social media of a bunch of kids getting together. They feel disappointed and angry. I’m with them.
Maybe, just maybe, we’re overreacting by shutting things down and keeping away from other people. Maybe. But why risk that? I feel reasonably confident that if I or my husband or our kids got this virus we would come through it just fine. But we could easily pass it on to someone who wouldn’t. We could spread it and add to the burden on our medical facilities and personnel. The sacrifice of staying home, isolating ourselves physically from others, is worth it to us.
I get that there are reasons some people have to be around others. But I am also confident that some adults are not willing to be the adults here. Either they don’t see the risks or they aren’t willing to tell their children no about get togethers. Sometimes we have to do the hard thing to do the right thing.