#COVIDchaos – how to go to school in 2020

As of September 19, there are 30.6 million COVID-19 cases worldwide, 6.75 million in the United States, 53,396 in Kansas, 7,972 cases in Sedgwick County. There have been 953,000 deaths worldwide and 198,000 in the United States.

Going to school BC (before COVID)
For the past 11 and 12 years, my boys have been “going to school.” For us, the start of the school year is typically the same. Up until March 2020, no one thought twice about the mundane way we “go to school,” or do other “regular” things like see the eye doctor or buy groceries.

For school. we enroll and pay athletic fees, confirm our transportation needs, review schedules and buy school supplies. Then, we go to school in a building with other students. We learn and see friends, attend class, eat lunch, and go to sports practice and games.

So, how do you go to school in the middle of a nationwide pandemic with mask mandates and distancing rules?

Going to school during COVID
Enroll your children in July, not knowing how “school” is going to work at the beginning of the year.

Spend the next 60 days in limbo as the district determines when the first day of school is. Pre-March 2020 it was August. 12. In August 2020, our district’s board of education voted to push the first day of school to Sept. 8 to allow community numbers to go down.

Spend a ridiculous amount of time discussing what happens if school sports are not allowed. Our district passed the vote, allowing sports, with safety precautions in place.

Navigate the hatred, cruelty and misinformation circling in parent groups about the pandemic and school. Opinions are strong.

A few weeks before school starts, we choose a learning option – hybrid or remote only. Hybrid means students go to in-person school two days a week with half the students, and learn virtually the other three days. For us, that means we go to in-person school Mondays and Thursdays (with students whose last name starts with A-L), and learn remotely Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Add masks/face coverings to the school supply list. Also required is a home internet connection, although not “formally” on the school supply list. If you do not have internet at home, you must check out a hotspot from the district.

No lockers are allowed. Disclaimer: mine never went to their lockers anyway, so this was not a big deal for us.

There’s temperature checks at school and students will sit in classroom assigned seating, three to six feet apart and not use shared papers or materials.

Students are required to wear masks at school.

During passing periods, social distancing is required. Bathrooms are limited to a certain number of students at a time.

Lunch utensils are pre-wrapped and most food will be individual wrapped to limit interaction.

Contactless payment options are strongly encouraged.

Lunch tables to sit every other seat to encourage distance between students.

What’s next?
I’m not sure if this is accurate (the opening plan for our school is a bit confusing), but I think our positive cases have to be under 3% for us to go back to five days in-person school.

The cases in our area are trending down, so we’re hoping to be back in-person five days a week. While this is good news, we have discussed many times that fully remote learning could be in our future if there’s an outbreak in cases.

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