Junction 54: Rushing back to normal?

My son has done quite well in school during the pandemic.

For the past year of remote learning, John Michael has continued to excel academically. That’s thanks in large part to his teacher, Miss Shroyer, and those of us who help keep him on task during the school day: his uncle (a retired schoolteacher), his long-time babysitter, his mother (when she works remotely on Fridays), and me (when I’m not focused on work upstairs throughout the week).

We’re very lucky – and so is he – that we can be here for him, keep him on time for his Zoom meetings, and nudge him to focus when his attention drifts.

Not every family has our resources.

I know other students are struggling. I know some parents can’t stay home for their kids during the day. I know that, for too many students, schools were the one place their children could be guaranteed something to eat and a safe space to stay during the day.

And I know we’re all tired of the plague. We’re tired of even the weakest forms of lockdown that our government can apply.

Even with the resources my family enjoys, it’s been a long year. Our son is easily annoyed with us now. He grows increasingly frustrated. Some of it is boredom. Some is lack of socializing with friends. But some is just a burgeoning need to get. Back. To. Normal.

Vaccines are rolling out, after all. We’re almost there. Just within reach.

So, when the North Carolina State Legislature started talking about a mandate to reopen schools, it *sounded* appealing. The Durham Public Schools Board of Education voted to open in mid-March because it seemed Senate Bill 37 would pass – and that sounded good too, primarily to the selfish part of me that wants peace and quiet in the house while I work during the day.

The part that needs to get. Back. To. Normal.

But Gov. Roy Cooper won’t sign the bill into law until a couple of flaws are fixed. Tonight, the DPS board meets again, and I wonder if they might not slow their roll. Teachers just made it onto the vaccine approval list this week. If we push back a little longer, maybe even just a few weeks, it could be worth it to save the lives of teachers, staffers, and relatives of any children who might become exposed to COVID-19 at school.

I’m worried about rushing, even if rushing brings me peace while I work sooner rather than later.

I’d rather be back to normal safely and for longer.

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Wes Platt

Lead storyteller. Game designer and journalist. Recovering Floridian.

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