The six-month long March/Easter/May 24/Summer Break of 2020 is finally drawing to a close. It has been a turducken kind of a break from school. Sure, there was that chunk of time in the spring when virtual learning was supposed to be a thing. Some kids (including one of mine) did some school work and attended virtual classes. Others (the other two of mine) said ‘screw that noise’ and proceeded on with six months of arguing with each other and complaining that there was nothing to do.
Start of school
Now it is a week from the start of school, give or take a week. We are only just finding out when school actually starts for each of our kids. In my family, our three kids are all starting on different days over the course of two weeks. My oldest won’t find out until Monday whether she is starting school on Tuesday or Wednesday. The ministry of education has helpfully changed the rules for secondary school formats three times in August and school boards have changed the start date for school a couple of times over the past few weeks.
School schedule 2020
A bunch of kids are going to be doing virtual learning – sitting in front of a computer for two – four hours a day watching virtual classes. Parents will be trying to make sure that their kids don’t just turn off the cameras and watch Peppa Pig on the ipad instead. Kids attending elementary school in person will be full-time in classrooms stripped of everything useful and wrapped in plastic. High school students will be doing one subject per week – every other day at home. Four hours of the same subject for in class days and uncertain what supports will be available for at home days. Not bad if you have a spare, not great for the subjects you hate, but have to take.
Mental health or physical health
In deciding between in person or remote learning, we are being asked to choose between risks to our kids’ mental health or physical health.
Parents are worn down from six months of anxiety and trying to support the mental health needs of our kids. The Minister of Education has spent the past month trying to break us with constant changes and pretend plans. School boards have been filling our inboxes with emails that amount to “watch this space for useful information” followed by emails announcing that we should ignore whatever they told us earlier in the week because now plans have changed again and they will tell us about the revisions at some future date – by the end of the day…
What will school look like?
So, back to school with uncertain safety protocols in classes of unknown sizes being taught by teachers who haven’t been given enough time to plan for all of these changes, but who will do their best whether they are teaching in person or virtually.
Waste of a break?
For me, I feel like I should have made better use of this school break to teach my kids about the world by going on weekly adventures and climbing all the trees in our neighbourhood. We did get out of the house on an RV road trip. Then we went camping for a few days with my brother in the summer. Most of the remaining 170 days we just survived and looked out the window at the park across the road that we weren’t allowed to play in until late June.
I thought when I started writing this that it was going to be funny with humerous anecdotes about this crazy period of time. It turns out that I am worn out and feeling anxious, frustrated and pessimistic about the pending start of school. I hope we can get at least a month of school before any COVID outbreaks so that we can each get some recovery time before the kids are sent home again. Even though I am really looking forward to some quiet in the house during the day, I also think I, and many others are going to go through an adrenaline crash while I drop some of the strain of the past six months and shift into the anxiety of what happens next.
Here’s to the end of the 2020 turducken break!