Social Distancing Week 32…You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Friday, October 23, 2020…12:22pm

The end of week 32.

The principal of our high school pointed out in an email this morning that by the end of next week our kids will have been in a virtual school setting for the equivalent of one full semester. On the Friday in March when our district announced a temporary shut down the official word was “2 weeks” but we told our kids to expect at least one month at home. As it turns out even our adjusted expectations were way too low.

Do I wish they left the house every weekday morning for in person school? Absolutely. Am I willing to send them back the second our school district, county, and state can all agree it’s time? Again, absolutely. Do I recognize the impossible situation the school district, county and state are in as they try to balance the scholastic/emotional/social/physical needs of students against the competing interests and views of multiple stakeholders? Once again, absolutely.

As with basically every other aspect of life in a COVID-19 world, there is no one right or easy answer. I can both want my kids back on their campuses and fully understand why they are not currently there nor likely to be there anytime soon. Our district is slowly bringing small cohorts of kids, with a variety of high needs, back to campuses for in person instruction. I think that’s great. I strongly believe the priority right now must be in person instruction for kids who need scholastic/emotional/social/physical supports that are missing in a virtual setting. My kids are doing fine. It’s not easy, it’s not optimal, it’s not fun – but they are doing fine and we can make this work for the entire school year if necessary. I know there are hundreds of kids in our district who are not doing fine, and I believe it’s those kids who should be the first back on campuses.

My 8th grader heard in a student council meeting last week that some kids are back on campus at her school. Her initial reaction was confusion – which kids and why just a few? When I explained to her that the kids in those cohorts needed in person instruction and support in a more critical way than the majority of kids, she understood. My 13 year old – who wants nothing more than to be out in the world and to see her friends everyday – can clearly understand that her desire for social interaction is not as important in the bigger picture as the critical scholastic/emotional/social/physical needs of some other students. She gets it, which is part of what makes it so frustrating anytime I read or hear full grown adults complaining about the fact that some kids (not their kids) are back on campuses. I’ve been tempted several times to quote the Rolling Stones in response to these complaining adults, “You can’t always get what you want….”

We have no way of knowing what the long range fall out of this strange time will be on children and teens. There is no question that all kids do better when they are physically in a classroom. But I also know that as a society, we have an obligation to balance the needs and wants of individuals with the resources and goals of the collective. Right now, in week 32 of our schools being physically closed, the “want” in our family to be back on campus has to be secondary to the critical “need” for in person instruction for a small group of students. We can’t always get what we want, but I am deeply happy to see other kids getting what they truly need. So we forge on from home, and we celebrate the step of having any students back on campus as a one step closer to all students being back on campus.

Be well my friends.

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