Our first week of ‘distance-learning’ school here is done. Completed. I’m shamelessly glad it’s over. I’m beyond proud of my little ladies who are handling it. I’m equally relieved and irate. Confused? Stay with me.
If you didn’t see my impromptu Facebook LIVE rant on my personal profile last week calling ‘b—$hit’ on most everything us Californians are dealing with right now… well you missed out. Broke my own damn rule about not cursing on social media. I was that upset (still am, but still with a smile on my face). Code Red Mental Health Alert? Sure, why not. The comments under the video were an honest combo of comforting sanity (from those who get it) and absurd ignorance (for those who are still delusional and need to pull their own face-mask off from their eyes). I digress.
Back to schools (not) starting. Pun intended.
It’s no secret there is a strong and educated contingency of parents in my neck of California (hell, across California) — longtime, fervent supporters of public schools and teachers — who are actively still pushing our districts to figure out a damn way to get back to school in person, even if it means offering some hours outdoors. Most of us who’ve been deep in the trenches are well informed about local and statewide teacher unions being directly responsible for lobbying our Governor to order his egregious directive to close all schools despite any and all Covid-19 micro-data relevant to each school’s immediate area.
If masks work, if we’re all shopping at grocery stores, if children have been attending day camps all summer long without hospitalizations and/or fatalities, if learning and social pods are now actively happening and local businesses are now offering parents supervision [babysitting] for school-aged kids during school hours… then our teacher unions should perhaps re-examine their previous talking points about how they ‘feel it’s not safe for teachers and students to be in classrooms.’ See? B—$hit. I say that as a granddaughter, daughter, sister and affectionate ally of public school teachers.
Most kids (and teachers) can safely be back in school, in person. [If you’re not ready, scared or have a health condition — please opt for distance learning. I get it, I respect it and I’m not disputing that some folks need to be extra careful.] Send them all with masks? Fine, I’ll meet you halfway and say yes just to save myself from inevitable accusations about how I must want people to die upon returning to school should I suggest that masks be optional.
Anyone who examines detailed, current data about who is most at risk, who is being affected the most seriously and how many hospitalizations and casualties there are (and in what demographic & pre-existing conditions) can see that this virus is no longer the end-all killer everyone first feared it was. Because if it was, I’d be dead by now considering all the places we’ve gone, all the people we’ve seen and all the hugs we’ve given and received since mid-May. Truth.
So, with my stand-up-or-shut-up attitude, I decided to make a public statement last week do something about this ludicrousness that’s keeping our kids out of school. An event…
- To make my kids’ very first-day-of-school morning memorable,
- To satisfy much of my own community’s deep want+need for in-person education and interaction,
- To unite parents and children in a public showing of American pride and solidarity,
- To boost my own mental health on a day that, despite all forced positivity and smiling optics, would suck.
For our district’s very first day of school, I organized a group of about 30 parents and kids to gather on our school district’s lawn, under the flagpole, and say the Pledge of Allegiance together. One nation, under God. Despite how evil some of our politicians and leaders have become. (This brilliant idea actually came from my public school teacher sister. Smarty pants, she is.)
Our group gathered at 7:30am, took a few pictures to commemorate the historic occasion (yes, I let the kids pull down their masks as we were outside and adequately distanced), we said the Pledge at 7:35am, we released red-white-and-blue balloons into the sky shouting “Happy Back to School!” and then we all scattered the premises at 7:40 sharp to get home in time for district-wide distance-learning log on happening at 8am.
It was one of the most incredible community experiences I’ve ever been a part of, let alone organized. I hope my daughters remember that morning and carry it with them as they grow. (I also hope our school district took note of this happening on their premises… our way of voicing how in-person education options are essential right now.)
There were smiles. There were laughs. There were hellos between friends. There were introductions between strangers. There were pictures with kids dressed up. There were parents with tears in our eyes. (Guilty.) There was a gorgeous morning glow behind our American flag standing in the blue sky. And for a moment, all of us there felt like it was a real, wonderful first day of school. Thanks to our Pledge of Allegiance. Indivisible.
So much love, camaraderie, positivity and community unity… despite how depressing the reality of running back home to sit in front of a computer for learning actually was. First day of school excitement and success, against all odds!
In a normal world, this story would end here. But oh no. We now live in a twisted experimental game where once-decent neighbors can now attack strangers based on social media pictures to purposely vilify any and all efforts of those who dare forge an opinion or action that might conflict with a woke angry mob who demands you agree with them or else.
Late last week, I shared our humble event of patriotism, community pride and solidarity for our kids in a local Facebook group exclusive to my immediate suburb town. My goal was to amplify our experience and hopefully repeat the event every few weeks with those who might be interested to join us. While there were many “wow, this is so nice” and “count us in for next time” and “the kids looks so happy” and “what a great memory that is” comments, there was also a fair share of bomb-droppers shouting their disapproval (for us having the audacity to socially distance outdoors and pull down our masks), issuing false assumptions that I must enjoy killing wildlife (on account of releasing some balloons) and offering pointed accusations of racism to one particular positive commenter for who knows even why. (Because balloons equal racism? I don’t get it.)
FACT: I expected it all to unfold exactly the way it did the second I hit ‘post.’
If I showed you the screenshots your head would pop. [NOTE: I released the balloons because it was the only easy+cheap, lowest maintenance idea I could quickly think of that would be speedy enough to offer a major fun-factor and also get the families back home in time to promptly log on to the first day of learning. Do I release balloons every chance I get? No — because it’s not the best option for the environment and I sincerely don’t believe in waste. I do make yearly exceptions for my mother’s passing. And I made an exception this time because, whether or not we like to admit it, balloons have a reputation of inspiring happiness in children and adults — especially during times like these when there’s NOTHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL.]
What’s even more sad? The longer we keep kids out of school (on account of a virus that over 95% of the population recovers from fine), the more severed we will become and the more our kids will learn to live, learn and work in a separatist society. De-humanized. De-socialized. Depressed and distanced from the essential qualities that grow us into respectful, compassionate and empathetic humans.
And for that reason, I will continue to pledge for safe, in-person everything to prevent that tragedy from happening. With liberty and justice for all. Will you join me?