When word came in that schools were sending students home through Spring Break in an effort to curb spread of the COVID pandemic, I pictured my daughter’s band uniform hanging on a rack in the newly built Event Center at El Capitan High School, black wool with golden trim and shiny, brass buttons.
I imagined the rack full of uniforms gathering dust on the shoulders while students were indefinitely kept off campus. I cringed, suspecting we were in for a long haul.
My daughter was holding back tears when I pulled up to the high school to pick her up for an indefinite stint at home. She launched her trumpet case, backpack and sports bag into the backseat and slammed the car door behind her, visibly angry over a canceled swim meet.
Throughout that first weekend at home, emails and phone calls sadly announced cancellations and I watched my kids swallow each one: the St. Patrick’s day parade… soccer… drumline competition. Online, I read comment after comment from parents on social media sites who were worried about how hard it would be to school their kids from home while I worried far more for the non-schooling, for the loss of the extracurricular activities that define my kids more accurately than a report card.
Some parents kiss their kindergartener goodbye at before-school care when it is still dark outside so they can make it to work on time each morning and face impoverishment if laid off. Some are English language learners and would struggle to guide their kids through six subjects worth of material in what is essentially, to them, a foreign language if our districts switch to online learning for the remainder of the year.
There are parents who struggle to stay sober while their children go to school and are blessedly led to graduation by teachers who do overtime as makeshift-everything for students who have nothing.
Recognizing I am not in any of those positions, I realize I have no right to complain that my easygoing kids have to miss a bit of school.
However, I’m sad for my children missing the daily routine of going to a physical campus and following it up with sports and band because it is their teachers, their coaches, their peers that have made my children who they are. That slow and steady, daily climb toward excellence is awfully hard to replicate when teams can’t meet and banter in the language of 12-year old boys, musicians can’t feel through a piece together in the same room, the camaraderie of the lunch tables is postponed until further notice and there is no pool where a young girl can dive in and glide away from social media.
How about you? The parents with regularly homeschooled kids who know this situation is not what homeschooling looks like, parents who schedule I.E.P. meetings months in advance, parents of graduating seniors, parents who were finally starting to see their kiddo bloom at that new school, parents who just got laid off, parents who struggled with school, parents who are secretly thrilled to have their kids at home— how are you handling these uncertain days? How is everyone out there doing?
Jessica Brodkin Webb is a staff writer for The Alpine Sun and San Diego Neighborhood News Network. Have a story about how you’re family is coping with stay-at-home directives? She can be reached at email@example.com .