Back to School: A New Outlook on In-Person Learning

On Monday, August 24th, my daughter headed back to school for in-person learning.  

Like many others, it was her first day back in over five months.  Thursday, March 12th was the last day she was there.  And now, after all that time, she’s back in class.  

All day.  Five days a week. 

Along with that, she also rides a school bus.  

Back to School: A New Outlook on In-Person Learning

As a teacher, I feel as though I am very aware of the potential risks COVID-19 brings into the classroom.  So sending her back to school was by no means an easy decision.

I was nervous.  What if going back wasn’t the right choice?

I was hesitant.  Will the school take all the necessary precautions?

I was scared.  Was I risking her safety by sending her back?

I was anxious.  How was I going to know that everything was going to be okay?

Then I picked her up from school after that first day and I realized I had all the answers I needed.

What if going back wasn’t the right choice? There was no doubt in-person learning was the right choice for her; the smile on her face as she got into the car said it all.  It was also the right choice for our family; my husband and I are both full-time working parents and do not work from home.  Each family has their own reasons for the choice they made regarding the school year.  I’m confident in ours and I hope you are too.

Was the school taking all the necessary precautions?  The school is taking numerous precautions in hopes to keep her safe yet still provide her with a positive learning environment.  She was given a mask as well as a lanyard to clip onto the mask for safekeeping.  They encourage wearing masks at appropriate times, but also incorporate plenty of ‘mask breaks’ throughout the day.  She has an assigned seat on the school bus and the children are properly socially distanced from each other.  It was very obvious they were trying to make this “new normal” actually feel normal, and that I appreciated.  

Was I risking her safety by sending her back?   I’d be lying to myself if I said her safety wasn’t at risk.  Of course it is.  But she’d be at risk even if she didn’t go back to in-person school.  And even prior to COVID-19, sending her to school presented safety risks.  As much as we’d like to, we can’t protect our children from everything.  What we can do is try our best to prepare them for how to handle any and all obstacles life throws their way.  And COVID-19 has been, and still is, an obstacle.  

How was I going to know that everything was going to be okay?  There was no way I was going to know if everything was going to be okay.  That’s just the reality we are all currently living in.  None of us are ever going to know.  Coming to terms with that wasn’t easy, but it was necessary.  

It wasn’t wrong of me to feel nervous, hesitant, scared, and anxious about her going back. 

I still have a mix of those feelings each day she gets on that bus for another day of school.  Because when it comes to the varying “return to learn” plans there truly is so much unknown.  No one can guarantee anything.  And it’s not easy to just hope for the best when it involves your children. 

But right now, I consider each day she gets to be at school doing in-person learning a gift.  And each morning I tell myself I will not stress over things I can’t control, and I won’t let the unknowns control me or my family.  

Optimism and trust; positivity and encouragement.  That’s how we are choosing to go about each day.

Happy New School Year. 

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Ashley is a ‘small town’ girl who moved to the ‘big city’ of Cedar Rapids after high school. A graduate of Coe College, Ashley is currently a kindergarten teacher and a true lover of yoga pants, cozy sweatshirts, chai tea lattes and cookie dough. Ashley and her husband, Mitch, first met each other back in middle school, dated when they were freshmen in high school, then reconnected one final time via Facebook back in 2006 shortly after Mitch returned from his first deployment. They've stood by their vows of ‘for better or worse,’ and as they approach their 10 year wedding anniversary, they aren’t afraid to admit that marriage isn’t easy. They welcomed their first child, Stella Grace Bass, in May of 2013 and their second child, Archer Mitchell Bass, in December of 2017!