Between a rock and a hard place

Between a rock and a hard place

The school situation has gotten more complicated.

The commissioner of education has decided to change the rules such that remote and hybrid schooling would no longer count towards the required days of school in the year. So it sounds like the state is going to be back to 5-day-a-week full-day in-person schooling at the beginning of April.

They say that a remote option will still be on the table, but at the moment the prospects for that are not looking very good. They are floating two options in our town - one which takes the remote kids out of their current cohorts and away from their current teachers and places them in remote-only classes, and another which keeps them with their current teachers and live-streams the class to them with limited attention and interaction. In both cases the remote kids miss out.

This leaves families like mine with a terrible choice. We can keep our kids remote by switching to whichever of the above bad choices the town settles on, or we can risk our family's safety and send the kids back to school in person before things seem ready.

We don't know which model the town is going to choose for the remote kids, but the more I think about it the less it seems to matter. I don't want my kids to be switched away from their friends or the teachers they know and love, and I don't think it will work to sit for six hours of non-interactive live stream. So I think that despite all of our reservations, we are probably going to opt to send the kids back to the classroom in April. This frightens me.

I'll be fully vaccinated before the kids would go back, but my wife probably won't have had her first shot yet. (But who knows, the state seems to change the rules every few days.) The teachers are starting to get vaccinated, but it is hard to believe that they will all be ready in time for this to begin April 5.

Our town is listed as 'low risk' but the state and county are still considered very high risk, and with the state barrelling ahead on a reckless reopening plan I have zero confidence that the risk will not start to spike again. It seems to me that people at all levels - from the governor down to my fellow neighborhood parents - are engaged in magical thinking. They seem to think that simply wishing the virus away will make it happen. It won't. Pretending that things are back to normal with the virus raging and variants spreading could easily erase all the progress we have made - we are already seeing cases plateau, and perhaps inch back towards increasing, after weeks of precipitous drops.

So we sit here with terrible choices to make about our kids' futures. I hope we are able to make the right one.