We were not planning on homeschooling DC2. We’d bought all the school supplies and scheduled the bus and the after school care. We even had submitted a grocery order full of easy to pack and quick to eat DC-approved lunch foods.
If our schools had the same protections in place that they had last year, we would not be homeschooling. We were even still planning on sending hir to school with no mask mandate, though we were uneasy about it. What happened? Well, first, at schedule pickup, less than 40% of everyone there was masked (it was waaay less at high school schedule pickup, maybe 15%?, though presumably all of the kids in high school have the option to get vaccinated, though in reality they don’t because they need parental permission). Second: we found out some really horrifying things about lack of parental notification and how they are discouraging quarantining, in exact opposition to CDC recommendations. A kid could sit next to an unmasked covid positive person every class period and lunch and the parents would NEVER KNOW. Additionally, quarantining will only be allowed for covid positive children, not children who have been merely exposed. Since people can be contagious before they show symptoms or get the results of a positive covid test, this spells disaster.
I think what happened was they saw headlines from other states that had already opened without mask mandates and thought, well, we can’t have 800 kids quarantined for exposure if we don’t allow quarantines for exposure!
We started looking into virtual schooling options a few weeks ago when it became clear that no masking would stay the rule. But it seems like it was too late and all of the highly rated virtual options were full while the ones remaining got poor reviews or looked scammy.
We are also going to have to be careful with DC1 since vaccinated kids can get Covid too. We’ve upgraded DC1’s masks. When the weather cools down a bit we’re going to keep windows and doors open and the fans will be on all winter. We bought an extra air filter for the mystery of the musty cupboard though I’m not sure whether to put it in DC1’s room (as the most likely carrier) or DC2’s (as the most vulnerable). Possibly we should buy a third filter and do both.
I know there are naysayers who probably don’t read this blog (or who hate-read it) who think we’re being too risk averse. But the thing is, we do not know what covid is like in a situation where someone without 100% working protective gear is constantly exposed to the virus. (Healthcare workers wear protective equipment that fits AND they can eat lunch away from the covid ward.) If nothing changes, these schools will become seas of virus particulate. And no, I don’t think this is fear-mongering– it is just logic. There’s a reason we have quarantines! And we know that there are breakthrough infections and we know that covid infections are worse the more exposure to the virus someone has had. On top of that, our hospitals are full and the children’s hospitals in our surrounding towns have been turning people away. Any non-covid emergency is going to be more dangerous because of these problems. And I’ve seen the full gamut of what can happen to covid-positive previously healthy young adults… there is no way of predicting who will be asymptomatic and who will have a brief hospital stay. Or who will recover after a few days and who will still have massive brain-fog for the rest of the semester, possibly longer. And DC2 is a foodie– losing taste and smell would be awful. Not to mention that we have no idea what the long-run outcomes will be.
I’m a little worried about DC2 although zie assures us we shouldn’t be. But this summer and last year zie had virtual classes with a teacher and other kids and had regular minecraft playdates with hir friends 2x/week. The playdates are ending since hir friends are returning to after school care (we’d signed DC2 up too, but that was before our state and school district decided to go crazy). There’s no virtual teacher to ask questions, no virtual class to socialize with. And DC1 won’t be home during the day. We did hire a Spanish tutor and are considering an English tutor, but that may not be enough.
I am also worried about how this is going to affect our careers. We’re both working full-time. During the school year I’m already frazzled trying to get all the parts of my job done plus just seeing day-to-day things with the kids. There’s just too much going on. This year will be especially bad because we are hiring for 3 open positions and we have several third year reviews happening. DC2 has been given strict instructions on when we will have time for hir and hopefully that will be enough. And zie has sworn zie won’t whine or tantrum, which I find extremely draining. Hopefully zie will stick to that. If I were planning on staying here forever, not getting stuff out this year might be ok, but I am desperate to leave this state, so I need to be active.
We hope to return DC2 to regular schooling just as soon as it is safer. Right now we think that means mask mandates + actual quarantining + lower community transmission rates OR DC2 getting fully vaccinated + quarantining or parental notification or something. But there might be some combination of the above that would encourage us to send hir earlier. We were told that school returning from homeschool should only occur at the beginning of grading periods, so every 6 weeks we will look at what is currently happening.
I guess I’m going to split this into two posts. This one explains our reasoning. Wednesday’s will be a less emotional “what we’re actually doing” post. Maybe there will even be some dollar values in it, who knows!