Winds of change blow hard this September

I am shocked that school is starting again in September.

I am even more surprised that they have chosen to start classes earlier in the morning for my teens. Anyone with a teen knows that earlier in the morning does not work well for them.

I’m currently grappling with what’s right for my family given the pandemic and I’m questioning why we would go against biology and start classes earlier, not later for our teens.

I was very thankful that Algoma University made the choice to keep all classes online this fall, so that I would be teaching online and not in the classroom. I assumed that the elementary and secondary school boards would follow suit. Yet it seems that kickstarting the economy involves schools being open, doubling as daycare for kids, so that parents can work.

Both of my kids have asked to go back to school this year. (Wow — there is so much wrong with that sentence; COVID-19 has made the world so very weird.)

My kids are not thinking about the economy, nor should they be. Not surprisingly, they want to go back to some form of normalcy. I’m the cautious one, wanting them to wait this out until the new year to see how this massive health experiment goes.

I don’t blame the kids. After all, why wouldn’t kids want to go back to school? My daughter misses the school musicals, and my son misses sports. Sadly, neither will have either through school in September as no extra-curricular activities are allowed.

The kids want to once again sit in the cafeteria and eat with their friends. That is not allowed either. I get that they are probably tired of our circle of ten’s faces, and can’t wait to see other kids. I also know it will be a relief for them to go back to class and have a teacher right in front of them to answer questions on the spot, instead of their online learning experiences (which varied from excellent to passable by teacher and course).

Then Mayor Christian Provenzano calls out the Minister of Education saying that our schools aren’t ready. While I don’t blame him, and I even applaud him, this does not induce confidence in me to send my kids back. I pity the teachers, who are also being made guinea pigs in this mammoth experiment. They are being asked to do something that has never been done before, with little guidance (“Just fold in the cheese David.” (My Schitt’s Creek friends will understand that reference)). None of this is normal, nor fair, but this is the new normal. I only hope that teachers are given the resources they need to do their jobs safely.

Tell me though, why does the new normal have to start a half hour earlier? I’m assuming it’s a busing issue, but why not half an hour later, so that teens can get the sleep that their brains and changing bodies require? Why not have the elementary school kids go to school earlier? If my family is any example, the “youngins” were all awake at the crack of dawn anyway.

I’m at a loss. September is always a time of change, but 2020’s version is particularly dubious. All I know for certain is that there are a lot of uncertainties.

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