We thought this day would never come, but it’s happening. Ilse’s school is reopening in April, and we couldn’t be more thrilled and relieved. Once again, the “first day” jitters are settling in. This time, the jitters are a little different. Ilse knows her classmates and her teachers through nearly an entire school year of distance learning. She has met a few of her classmates at a parent-organized meet-up at a local playground. The difference for Ilse will be being on campus for the first time, or as we call it at home “big kid school.”
The decision to send Ilse to school in-person is not one we took lightly. There a number of factors we considered like Ilse’s overall health and the school scheduling. For much of the school year, our family had resigned ourselves to the reality that Ilse would not be attending elementary school until Fall 2021. Ilse had a steady routine of online morning classes at home and then an in-person afternoon program. Either my husband or I make sure she is logged in (and participates) and we complete asynchronous activities with her. We are fortunate to have the flexibility to be present for Ilse, because there are children doing distance-learning sessions without a grownup nearby for help. It’s been a grind for us, as I am sure it has been for other families. There are great days, bad days, and just ok days.
Given Ilse’s social nature and how well she has thrived at her in-person afternoon programs, we felt that the opportunity to send her to school in-person is the right decision for her growth and continued education. She won’t have a full day, but it’s better than another seven weeks of distance learning. We are also a little anxious, too. So much of the information surrounding school reopenings in San Francisco is still fluid, like the distancing between classroom desks; the initial classroom set-up was six feet between desks. As of March 19, the CDC recommended three feet between desks. Reopening questions still linger. Will Ilse be able to catch up in the next seven weeks? Will there be summer school? What will fall look like? Will aftercare return and what will it look like? I look forward to hearing the school district’s response to these questions in the weeks ahead.
It’s been a long, exhausting, and sometimes exasperating school year. But I am grateful we had the opportunity to actively participate in Ilse’s lessons beyond homework. It has been amazing to witness the creative tactics her teachers have used to keep the students engaged, like dance breaks and mental wellness check-ins. Huge thank you to our school’s community for the great work they’ve done! In the meantime, we will wait for her school to continue preparations for reopening. We will resume our current routine and start preparing for the new school routine. We can’t wait for “big kid school” to commence.