Here in France, my kids went back to school in May and June. They are on summer break now, but schools are currently planning to fully open in September (technically, I think the first day back is August 31st).
Friends have asked what it’s like having kids back in school — what are the safety precautions? — so I thought I’d walk you through what it has been like here to have the country slowly and carefully reopen.
Here’s what the French pandemic response looked like from my perspective. In early March, right after I got back from Alt Summit, there was talk about the country shutting down, but it hadn’t happened yet, and the kids were still in school.
By Mid-March, President Macron closed ALL schools throughout the country simultaneously, and the country shutdown in earnest. Everything but essential shops were shuttered and the streets of our town were absolutely empty. I didn’t see people walking. I rarely saw cars. It was quiet as can be. Grocery shopping happened rarely, and had strict guidelines — only one person per family (you couldn’t bring your spouse or the kids). You had to enter and exit on specific paths. There were plexi-glass checkout barriers for the workers. School transitioned to online, but didn’t take up a big portion of the day.
People continued to be paid for working at home, or had access to government relief funds in order to float their businesses until they could reopen. There was no talk of evictions or not being able to pay rent. No utilities were shut off. Nothing like that.
This continued for two months. Everything was closed. At the one month point, a couple of restaurants reopened for takeout only. No funerals. No travel. No driving longer than a few miles. No handshakes, hugs, or cheek kisses. No hanging out with neighbors on their lawn — even at six feet apart.
Mid-May, things started to slowly and carefully reopen. And all of it was at the direction of the government. The country was labeled with green zones or orange zones or yellow zones, depending on the risk factors of that area for covid-19 to spread, and green zones opened first. Normandy (where we live) was a green zone, which means it was considered low-risk.
Elementary kids went back to school, but with modifications. Each class was split in half and would only attend half the time. So Flora June and half of her class attended school on Monday & Thursday, and the other half attended on Tuesday & Friday. (There is no school on Wednesday for elementary age kids, even when there’s no pandemic.)
All adults at the school had to wear masks 100% of the time. The children were not asked to wear masks, though they could if they wanted to. Any child showing even the smallest signs of sickness was asked to stay home. And you didn’t have to send your kids if you didn’t want to (like maybe you have immuno-compromised members of your household). If you didn’t feel safe attending in person, you could still participate via online school.
The desks were spread far apart, hand-washing was required at several points throughtout the day,. At recess, the kids could only play games where there was no touching and the kids stayed 6 feet apart — so no tag. And the cafeteria process was streamlined so that the kids could avoid touching things. They would come in and sit — every other chair — and the food was brought on a rolling cart and the kids chose what they wanted and it was placed in front of them. No sharing food.
Three weeks after the elementary schools children returned, middle school students and high school students had the option of returning, or continuing with online classes. The plan was that if the whole class wanted to return, they would be split in half and each group would go every other week. But for Oscar and Betty’s classes, only about half the kids wanted to return, so they could go every week.
For these older kids, masks were required and they were each given 4 white cotton masks that are washable and reusable.
Three weeks after that, President Macron announced that all students could attend at the same time for the last week of school. The same masks and handwashing requirements, but they didn’t need to split the classes anymore.
In early June the stores and banks and businesses started to reopen as well. Masks were required to enter, and shops with small square footage could only allow in a couple of people at a time. Stores put vinyl guidelines on the floor in front of registers to keep people properly spaced. And they put vinyl guidelines outside the doors too, so that if people needed to line up and wait their turn to shop, they would be properly spaced too. All stores provided hand sanitizer at the entrance and asked all customers to use it when coming inside. Most shops created plexiglass barriers at the registers to protect their employees. Citizens were still asked to limit their shopping and stay home as much as possible. All of these precautions are still in place and active.
Mid-June, our church reopened as well. We have a very small congregation, so it was possible for us. But it’s very modified. We let our church leaders know if we’ll be there ahead of time, so they can plan for us. Masks are required, and if you forget yours, they have a stack of the blue disposable masks at the door. When we arrive, there’s no chitchat or hanging out. We follow a specific path to our chairs — which are assigned and have our name on them. The chairs are spread out so no two families are close together. The meeting lasts 45 minutes, and then each family is dismissed one at a time and asked to go directly to their cars, no hanging out afterwards. There are special precautions for taking the sacrament too.
As the school year finished, the country reopened for travel within France’s borders, and at the beginning of July, travel within EU countries opened.
All of the reopening so far has happened in 2-3 week segments, so officials can track if there’s a new outbreak with each reopening change. But so far, so good.
Precautions are still in place. Restaurants have reopened but can not take big groups — I believe the max reservation is 10 people, and that’s only if the restaurant has adequate square footage. Tables at restaurants have to be spread out and they can’t take as many customers. Pretty much every store requires masks, as well as any National Monuments. Some stores are by appointment only. Plexiglass barriers at checkout points are the norm. There is still no shaking hands, or cheek kissing, or hugging. There are still no large gatherings. The community pool reopened, but only for laps, and you have to reserve one of the limited spots. Extra-curricular options for kids haven’t really restarted at all.
Even with all these safety precautions, as we traveled last week, it felt pretty normal. The biggest difference is the masks. When people are outside with plenty of space, the masks come off, but anytime there are a lot of people together — like the boat tour we took — masks are required. And I haven’t seen anyone complain or hesitate about the masks. Sometimes you’ll see someone enter a store without a mask and a worker will let them know one is required, and the customer will quickly say something like: Oops! I forgot. Sorry about that. And then pull a mask from their pocket.
I do think mask-wearing has eased up a bit here in outside spaces this month. But again, reopening has been so slow and careful, without signs of new outbreaks, and I think it’s understandable that people are feeling more confident to go without.
But I also know that if there’s even a tiny re-emergence of the virus, the people here won’t hesitate to get strict again. The French are lucky — they aren’t worried about how they’ll pay their bills, because they have vast and deep social safety nets.
I’m sure you’ve seen this chart of America compared to the EU. It is painful to watch covid-19 still raging in much of the U.S.. I’m sick about it and worried for my children, Maude and Ralph, who live there. If they get sick, can I go to the U.S. and take care of them? And if I do, will I be able to return to France when they are better?
I’m also heartsick for all the parents who are still trying to work without school, childcare, or summer camps. For those couple of weeks in June where all our kids were in school again? Holy cow, it makes SUCH A DIFFERENCE for how efficient and productive our work days were. And I’m sure I would be incredibly discouraged if I thought our kids weren’t going back in the fall. (Of course, if there’s a second wave, they won’t be.)
Trying to work at home and parent at the same time is so dang hard. And being asked to come into a store or office for work, when there are no childcare options available, is an impossible situation.
I’m especially frustrated for those people in the U.S. who kept a strict quarantine in March and April and May. If the whole country had done that, and carefully managed a nationwide reopening, the U.S. would be experiencing what the EU is experiencing: a modified, open, and covid-free summer.
But because shutdown orders and reopening orders have happened haphazardly around the U.S., and with different levels of strictness, the virus has only been contained in limited areas, and it feels like people will need to quarantine for a long time still. It’s infuriating to watch, and much more infuriating for the people living through it.
I also keep thinking about the horrible guidance we were all given in March about masks. I know some of it was based on not knowing enough about the virus and how it spreads, but it has also been reported that some of the advice was knowingly bad. And it has caused such huge problems. I remember specifically being told masks weren’t very effective, and that people wearing masks are more likely to touch their faces, and spread the virus that way. I was also told to save all masks for healthcare workers — an action that felt good to support. And I passed along all of that bad advice!
Instead, the experts and officials could have told us: Masks are essential. Save medical-grade masks for healthcare workers whenever possible. And if you have to go out, be sure to make at least a makeshift mask and wear it. They could have told us masks were important and that creating a huge mask supply was important, and Americans (who LOVE to make things) would have been all over that. Instead, this basic and effective safety tool has been politicized.
It’s especially infuriating because we can see now that in cities and countries where mask-wearing is expected and commonplace (like NYC), the virus seems to be under control.
What is all this like where you live? Did your community have a strict lockdown or was it more casual? What are infection rates like in your city or town? Are people still working at home a lot? What about school? Do you think your schools will reopen in the fall? If they do, will you be sending your kids? And do you have any thoughts on masks?
P.S. — The Circus of Covid Testing.
127 thoughts on “Will Your Kids Be Heading Back to School This Fall?”
I live in a part of the US where there was a large first wave and we were under strict lockdowns. And it worked. It also seemed gentle compared to France! Our bad first wave in my state looks small now compared to Arizona, Florida, and Texas. I’m so frustrated with people thinking they are above the guidelines. We have been home since March 13, when schools were closed. I have family and friends who have been traveling all over the country the entire time this has been going on. I’ve come to the conclusion Americans are selfish. It’s so disappointing.
My school district hasn’t issued plans yet, but I was asked to be part of a parent group to give feedback to proposed plans. The principal said she wouldn’t enforce social distancing and she’d still give kids hugs. I’m privileged enough that I can stay home next year to homeschool my kids. I’m giving up a job for it, but I have zero trust in our school administrators. My job in a school will not be safe. I hope that things will be better than I am expecting and I feel awful for the teachers who are now being painted as the bad guys for being scared to go back to school.
One more thought: Masks are essential. My kids are early elementary ages but they have been able to tolerate them. They understand why they have to wear them. If parents set a good example, kids will be fine. They can do hard things. Everyone who can wear a mask should. I, too, was confused by the mixed messaging at the beginning.
I hear you. The teachers have been put in an impossible situation. It’s all so awful.
I also feel irritated by the mask misinformation; I know all of the public health professionals are doing their best, but I could have sewn a mask much earlier. My area just moved into “Stage 3” which means now almost all businesses can re-open, but we have to wear masks indoors and follow physical distancing guidelines. Our country was very much like France- social supports and systems in place, or quickly put into place, and as much as this spring was really hard, we know we can trust the government and have something to fall back on.
I mostly try not to look at too much news about the US because it is so upsetting, or if I do I watch CBC or BBC for balanced actual news reporting and facts. It is a huge country,but it needs a more centralized government so that people do not have to die. I feel the people are brainwashed about personal freedoms and there doesn’t seem to be a larger sense of community, just small community groups? Not sure how to put this thought into words but where I live, we see the benefit to society of looking after each other, and that what is good for you is good for me and for everyone.
I’m also very worried about the kids going back to school this fall… Not sure how they will distance….
I know what you mean. We eventually made masks, but I would have done so weeks earlier if the experts had told us how important they are.
Thank you for sharing such detailed info about your schools. Here in the Dallas area, it looks like we’ll have a choice between in-person school and online school. I want to send my kids to school (and they want to go), but I’ve been really anxious about sending them. Your post has eased some of my fears, because our schools will be taking similar precautions to those of your schools, and it sounds like they work. Thanks, Gabby! Is it going to far to say this was an answer to my prayers?
Oh Emily. Your comment actually makes me really uneasy. I tried to be clear in the post: The reason school reopening worked here and was safe is because the entire country of France had a strict lockdown and slowly and carefully reopened, which has kept the virus under control. By the time schools started to reopen, infection rates in France were really low and had remained low for weeks. From what I can see in the news, that is not at all true in Texas. The safety precautions our French school took, may not apply to a Texas school. (I can’t speak specifically to Dallas.)
I would LOVE it if American parents could send their kids safely to school in the fall, but based on what I’m seeing with infection numbers, I’m not sure that it’s possible. Maybe NYC will be an exception to that.
Please I beg you not to use my description of French schools as a reason to send your kids to school. Listen to the medical experts and watch the infection rates, and please don’t send your kids if it’s not safe.
Sending so much love as you navigate this very, very hard situation.
Don’t worry, I’m probably the most paranoid woman in Texas where Covid is concerned. I watch the local numbers (in horror) daily. I haven’t set foot in a grocery store since March! We live in a very small school district, and our school is taking many, many precautions. Now that masks are required (almost) statewide, I’m hopeful our numbers will come down in the coming weeks before school starts. My concern is that even with masks and social distancing, etc, the virus will still spread in schools, and it sounds like that didn’t happen where you live, which gives me some assurance. Sorry to alarm you!
I think Gabby’s point is that France had basically zero infections when they reopened schools, so it wasn’t necessarily only the masks/social distancing that kept the spread from happening. It seems unlikely that Texas will be down to such low numbers of infection before the school year restarts.
Yeah, listen to Gabby and don’t use France’s situation as a comparison to Texas at all. In fact Texas is probably only going to get worse before it gets better. Our leaders have failed us.
No no. Nonono. I am in Virginia, we don’t have near the numbers of Texas. Currently, my county’s public schools are offering 4 days fully remote learning OR 2 days in school with 2 days asynchronous (online but not live) learning). I am SO fortunate that we are in a very small private school with very limited numbers, every kid has a laptop, all teachers involved in the decision, schools able to require and enforce masks, enough space to spread out, etc. We are sending our daughter to her school. If we were in public – NOPE. The teachers cannot even require kids to wear masks–it will be “encouraged” but not required. And this is a blue county that did a fairly good job at shutting down. Our county and state leadership has been way better than the fed leadership or state leadership in other areas. My neighbor and friend who is a public school (high school) teacher whose daughter is the same age as ours is doing remote learning for her and has asked to teach remotely this year–and there’s no guarantee he will be allowed to teach remotely, even though he has health factors that put him at increased risk. DO NOT TOUCH YOUR PUBLIC SCHOOL WITH A 3-MILE POLE.
Ouch. Your last sentence really hits hard. I believe in public schools and I think this crisis is going to push more families with means to abandon them. Meanwhile in countries that invest in their public system, they are able to reopen. There’s a lesson there for Americans!
At least public schools don’t have the perverse incentive that private schools have to bring everybody back on campus so that they can justify their tuition. In Atlanta, the public schools will be all-virtual while some private schools will be in-person. Is that because those private schools have figured out social distancing better than everyone else? Or is it because those schools will go under if half their students leave because the school is only offering sub-par distance learning and parents have other cheaper/free options for that?
Right now in Atlanta, per this awesome Georgia Tech dashboard https://covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu/, even for a group of 25, there’s a 66% chance someone there has Covid. Is your very small private school smaller than 25 students + faculty? Is the plan really good enough that the rest of the class and teacher wouldn’t get sick even if someone in the classroom has Covid (not to mention the whole rest of the school)? As much as I wish it were otherwise, for the vast majority of the population, I don’t think American kids can safely return to class next month.
I’m so glad to hear that Atlanta will be all virtual for public schools. I can’t say for every private, but I know for our that it isn’t that they “have figured out social distancing better than everyone else” but that they have the space and resources to actually do it. The public schools in my county do not. They kids will still be rotating between classes. The teachers and students will be primarily responsible for cleaning between classes, but the teachers are not being given extra funds for cleaning supplies. The students will not be required to wear masks. They will still have to share classroom supplies unless the teachers buy enough for every student the teach to have their own dedicated materials (I have given money to local teacher campaigns so that they can do this). They do not have enough classrooms or enough space in each room to spread out enough or minimize shared spaces. On the other hand, our daughter’s private school will have classes with 10 students that will not rotate through the day–the teachers will rotate instead. They will have lunch in their classroom. They will stagger recess times so that the cohorts are outside in their individual groups. There will not be hordes of students passing each other in the halls every hour, or sitting in the cafeteria together. They will require masks, and provide them to any student who forgets or loses their mask. Yes, there is still some risk, and if we had individuals in our household who were at increased risk we would elect to attend fully remotely (which our school is offering, with cameras, microphones, and dedicated computers in every classroom for the kids to be as integrated as possible with their on-campus classmates). We have determined that the level of risk is acceptable to us at this time. If we were in public school, we would elect to be fully remote. When I say don’t touch the public schools, I mean that literally–don’t enter them, not don’t enroll in them. We are in private because of my daughter’s severe dyslexia but gifted status, which the public school cannot deal with well, not because we do not believe in public schools.
Of course, private schools have the ability to social distance more easily than large public school systems. Their class sizes already are limited and there often is no busing to private schools. My husband and I have seriously considered switching our son to private as virtual learning was a disaster for him in the spring, even though we always have been big advocates of public school.
I live in Idaho and it’s embarrassing what’s happening here. Most people not only don’t wear a mask in my area, but they get almost violent about being asked to wear one. Our Governor took the Republican/Trump line at first and was joking during press conferences. He finally started realizing things needed to shut down but took such heat for it that he’s now punting to mayors and individual school districts to decide what to do. It’s not organized and it’s a mess. Our bars re-opened and people flocked to them and we had an almost immediate outbreak. Summer camps are open, people are out in close groups with no masks glaring at anyone wearing one. Our numbers are record breaking daily and no one seems to care and beyond one city going back to phase 3, everyone is pretty much business as normal. Family get togethers and family parties have been linked to large outbreaks but people won’t stop. We just had our first healthcare worker death. A 45 year old mother of 4 who was a pediatric nurse practitioner with no underlying health issues. Community spread is rampant. Testing is so subpar it’s ridiculous. Out of all the people I know, we are the only family who has actually stayed home and out of the mix since this all went bad in March. I get semi regular comments about how paranoid I am because of it. It’s scary, completely ludicrous, and very hard not to be mad as hell at everyone here.
Holly, that is so rough. It’s hard enough to isolate at home, but having to do so while being told you’re being paranoid is much more difficult.
Holly I am in Idaho too and I agree with everything you just posted. It scares me how wildly selfish our area appears to be and the reactions we have received while wearing masks has been so disheartening. Everyday my partner and I struggle with what to do about school, we have a 7, 5 and 2 year old and both work full time and have had no childcare since early March. The idea of going another year without a break frankly makes me want to cry but I also don’t feel like it’s ethical to send my kids to school and endanger the teachers when our cases are so wildly out of control and there seems to be no plan to reign it back in.
It’s so nice to know at least a few other people here feel the way we do! Good luck to us all and keep up the good social distancing work!! And I feel like we have no good choice for our three kids this fall because even if we keep them home my husband is around school aged kids all day for work. There’s no good choice to land on and isn’t that so sad?
I’m in Missouri and could have written this post exactly. I’m so, so exasperated by friends and family not taking it seriously, and so few in the community wearing masks. I gave birth to twins last month and got to do 3rd trimester and now the newborn stage essentially alone because I can’t trust the people who offer to help. Even asking people to wear masks when they drop by with food gets eye rolls!
Fellow Idahoan here — we are in the same boat. Practically nobody is wearing masks and we live in a tourist town, so there are tons of non-residents here from all over the USA. And they admit it, shamelessly! Some lady just went semi-viral online for driving over to Idaho from Washington to grocery shop simply to avoid Washington’s mask mandate. I am so angry at these people.
Our family has barely left our house since March – we online grocery shop and pick up our order, don’t really socialize at all, and wear masks when we do leave the house. My husband is back to full-time work and I recently started going back one day a week, so we are trying to be really cautious in every other part of our lives so we can continue to go to work. Meanwhile our kids have each been invited to a sleepover within the last two weeks and WHAT, NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT. I had also really underestimated the peer pressure to be unmasked and living your life like normal – it’s hard feeling like the only cautious person.
I don’t know what we will be doing for school in the fall; I cannot envision a scenario in which it’s actually safe to send them, because that would require mask mandates and extra funding for schools and I absolutely do not see Idaho stepping up to the plate in that way. So many of our family members are teachers and I am TERRIFIED for them.
I’m so so sorry for you. I can offer online solidarity and heartfelt thanks for taking this seriously. It’s helped me to hear others chime in so I know we’re not alone. Knowing others have the guts and character to step out of play dates and pool parties makes me feel much less alone in our approach.
I live in a county right next to LA county and at first we were doing really well. Then we opened way too fast and had a huge spike. I think our schools will have several options but I’ve always homeschooled so we will just keep on doing that. Our family has done a strict shelter in place for the last 4 months and it’s truly frustrating that so many others haven’t and now we are back to square one. We personally have been wearing masks since late March. I think it’s time to move to France!
It was difficult for me to read this post. I have been so viscerally angry the last few weeks — maybe the angriest I’ve ever been in my life. Our US government has utterly failed us, the situation will continue to get worse, we can’t escape to other countries, and most importantly, IT DIDN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY.
I’m an essential worker, and I live alone. Quarantine is hard. But it’s been particularly hard now that I feel my sacrifices have been thrown in the trash and the official plan is to just let people die. The only thing that keeps me from totally losing it right now is the idea that soon someone I love could die from the virus and I will look back on these days of quarantine as a happier “before.” What a sick thought.
As for our local plans, I participated in a city council meeting last night which discussed a potential mask mandate. There was so much misinformation and fear-mongering and after 3 hours, the council decided to not even vote on a mandate. Our schools are opening on a hybrid schedule at the end of August. Our number of active cases on June 15th was 47. Today it’s 227.
Lily, I so identify with your comment “ But it’s been particularly hard now that I feel my sacrifices have been thrown in the trash and the official plan is to just let people die.” Like, we’ve been quarantining for four months (and had a baby a month ago!) and we are STILL at square one and probably will not be going to school full time in the fall. My kids are dying for play dates and with a newborn + three other kids I would love that, but I’m trying to be safe- and am SO OVER quarantining, while knowing it’s importance. Why couldn’t we all quarantine the heck out the pst few months so we would be over this hump??
I find it stressful quarantining with my four kids ages 8 and under- but I imagine doing this alone also has it challenges. This period has brought different challenges upon all of us. Thank you for your Essential work.
I have to remind myself to journal, because this is a truly historic time that the next few generations will be asking us about. “Way back in 2020…”
In Michigan our governor had a lot attention for being strict in the beginning, but the infection rate dropped because of it. As of yesterday masks are mandatory in public places in the state. We don’t know about school yet. The not knowing about how school will happen is the most frustrating part, but I’m fortunate that my spouse is working and can support our family, and I can take (unpaid) time off work to homeschool my kids if I need to.
We live in Southern California-our school district has not made a decision about what to do yet. I’m leaning towards homeschooling my 6th grader. But my 11th grader? Ugh-no. I am fortunate that I’m a SAHM-my friends who WOH are in total turmoil about what to do. Our numbers continue to rise, and I just don’t see how it’s safely possible to have in person school. I am infuriated by the total lack of management and guidance by the Trump administration. Watching Betsy Devos makes me want to scream.
It’s interesting to hear your experience in the north of France – in the south of France we, of course, had the same experience with the lockdown, but I’d say that now people here are perhaps being overly relaxed about the situation. Just yesterday in the grocery, only about 1/3 of people wore masks, which really surprised me. I wish it was mandated for indoor spaces.
I do share the sentiment that after being somewhere that has so far successfully managed the disease, I feel sorrow and anger that my friends and family in the US don’t get a similar situation.
I’ve been waiting for this post – thanks for sharing all these details about what the pandemic has been like in France and how they handled kids returning to school. It is fascinating to read this kind of information and your story and also simultaneously infuriating because it is so vastly different from our own experience of the last 4 months.
I live in Arizona (in the northern part of the state, not in a large metropolitan area) and it is so scary and frustrating to observe and witness the complete ineptitude of our state and federal government in their response. We have been in pretty strict lockdown since mid-March, with the exception of some family camping trips (just our nuclear family). We are grateful and fortunate to have a lot of open spaces and public lands close by where we can safely take a break from our house and still be very physically distant from others. However, last night, I tried to take my kids to a nearby park to do some bike riding and scooting and get some physical energy out safely and there was a huge gathering of what looked like teenagers or maybe young adults, none of whom were social distancing or wearing masks. All of us felt unsafe being there so we changed plans – two police cars also showed up while we were leaving – perhaps to try to disband the gathering? I don’t know. But we do have a mask mandate in our town, including outside if you can’t keep your 6 feet. It made me so angry to see all these people seemingly not caring at all about the larger community.
Our kids are scheduled to return to school on August 5 with 100% distance learning. I have a 2nd grader, 5th grader, and 8th grader. And both my husband and I have been working from home since March (he full-time, me 25 hours/week). I seriously want to throw up when I think about what that day-to-day reality is going to be like for us. There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day for it to work. After August 17, there is some chance they could go back to school in person if we decide to let them but we are waiting for more details from our school (a K-12 charter school, not the public school district). I honestly don’t know what we will decide. It feels like two horrible choices.
We will continue to wear our masks, stay physically distant from others, and “follow the rules” as best we can to try to keep ourselves safe and keep others safe from us. But the future is looking pretty bleak here.
After leaving my first comment earlier today, I was thinking some more about your post. I’m curious how your kids adapted to all the changes at their schools? If you’re comfortable sharing, of course. Was it hard having to keep their distance from their friends or were they still able to socialize and have some personal connections with their peers that felt meaningful to them? I personally am happy to have my kids do what it takes to keep everyone safe, including wearing a mask all day at school and following the rules set out by their school. But I also want to prepare them that going back to school (if and when they do) will not feel the same as it did before. They likely won’t be chatting in intimate groups with their friends in the hallways between classes or sitting all together at a table in the lunchroom. I expect some mixed feeling and disappointment once this new reality sets in for them and at least with my kids it usually helps to talk through these things beforehand as much as we can.
Hi Kathleen, my experience, from France (Paris) my kid went back to school before the end of lock-down (not all the schools were closed, some schools were chosen to receive the children of health-care workers and other people who had to go to work), he is 6 and he was just fed up with washing his hands 10 times a day. But the other rules were quickly integrated and not questioned. Kids just want to play and they understand the rules so well. Now that we’re on holidays and I can see my friends’ kids (different ages), they say they were fed up with the lockdown and were SO happy to go back to school. Sending lots of thoughts of solidarity your way.
I live in an area of the country that’s not the worst, not the best. A flat trend for us. Most people wear masks, I can tell there are some people who refuse. Public schools this fall will do 40% in person K-12, 60% distance learning. With the hopes of social distance and sanitation between groups. Personally for my family we were able to find a spot in a brand new local private school, who will do all in person Learning. It’s a tiny school so feel comfortable with their safety measures, My daughter will repeat kindergarten due to the lack of learning that happened once Covid hit. Her experience with distance learning this past spring was horrible. She refused to do work, she can’t read or use a computer mouse so any zoom meeting etc needed to me completely done by me. She experienced behavioral and mental health issues due to being quarantined. Also I’m working full time from home, and have a 3 year old! The younger one luckily is now in preschool/daycare full time. It’s a crazy time!
I live just outside Houston, TX. Our Houston Chronicle had 43 pages of obituaries yesterday. That’s how things are going where I live.
Schools, who knows? As far as I can tell there’s no coherent plan and no money for implementing safety precautions. Honestly, the schools will be closed within a month if they do open because there will be wave after wave. I don’t have school age children but if I did, there is no way I would send them.
It’s a sad time in America and really sad because we are doing it to ourselves.
I’m also just outside Houston. Up until today, with TEA saying new guidelines were coming after a lot of push-back from parents, teachers, and superintendents, we were told you either had to choose completely online or completely in-person and they were HOPING enough people would choose online to be able to do effective social distancing in the classroom. Our public school safety plan was actually HOPE. It’s so discouraging and I’m so disgusted with my state and national leadership.
We live in Bellevue, WA, just outside of Seattle. In general, folks wear their masks, and our numbers are definitely far better than in other areas of the country. As dual citizens (Canadian and US), however, we are definitely questioning why we are still living here. I have a good cry (in the bathroom, so the kids don’t see me) almost every day because I miss our family in Canada terribly, and not knowing when we will be allowed to cross the border to see them is awful, along with all the stress of the unknown regarding the kids’ return to school this Fall. We also have family in France, and were supposed to be there now to meet my new little niece. I am thankful that things are looking up there, as well as in Canada, but it is certainly not without envy!
I live in East Washington State and all my family is in Canada. It’s been heartbreaking to have to cancel the time we had planned to be in Canada. I totally understand why the border is closed and i think it’s very prudent of Canada however at the same time, I feel really say good myself and my children. Being separated from family had added a whole other layer of stress and uncertainty.
We don’t know what schools will look like where I live. I’ve homeschooled my kids for the past 3 years and I’m ready to phase out of it. My 6th grader was going to go to school full time, but who knows now??
I live in Salt Lake City. At this point, we are still in orange phase with the bulk of new cases in our county. If the county remains in orange phase when school starts, all learning will be online. If we move to yellow phase, it will be a blended model of online and at-school learning. I’m terrified either way. I am really privileged to be able to work full-time from home, but I cannot provide learning support for my four kids (two middle schoolers, a 4th grader, and a kindergartener) and do my job at the same time. I’m so worried for my kindergartener. She can’t read and can’t use a computer. How do you teach a 5 year old to read on Zoom? My mom has offered to come help out during the day in the fall because I can’t afford to hire a nanny at this point. My husband is an assistant principal at a middle school and his district is doing a full-blown opening in the fall. I’m terrified. He’s going to be around hundreds of students every day. It’s almost guaranteed he’ll catch the virus.
The thing that has really become clear to me is that minorities will continue to be the ones who suffer. Our city is the most diverse in the state, and most minority parents are essential workers. How can they provide support to their kids when they have to be at work every day? How the HELL do they leave their children at home to go to their jobs? Like the commenter above, I am more angry than I’ve ever been. If we had the deep social safety nets other countries have, this would not be as big of an issue. I really hope this is a wake up call for Americans, but it seems like many are doubling down on their beliefs in their “personal freedoms.” The anti-mask wearing is so incredibly disheartening to me. My cousin got married last weekend and STILL HELD A RECEPTION (epitome of selfish…I get that it’s sad to forgo events like this, but, just no). We pulled up to the reception with our masks, saw that nobody else was wearing masks, and turned back around to leave. I’m not putting myself and others at risk for that.
We live on the east coast and have been in lockdown since midMarch. It hasn’t been easy but it hasn’t been terrible. The kids are OK. We’re managing. Most people are wearing masks when out and about. I read several mommy blogs (mostly Mormon moms) and they seem to be traveling from AZ to CA to UT, going to enormous family reunions, socializing freely. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is — really the worst part of the whole ordeal — to see other people who think the rules don’t apply to them while constantly proclaiming their faith and their good deeds. The hypocrisy or willful blindness is infuriating. I find myself increasingly irate at the poor behavior of my fellow citizens. Of course the leadership at the top is completely missing but, still, common sense tells us to mask up and isolate.
We live in the UK and things have been pretty bad here. Home learning with my 3 teens was hard going to be honest as was the lack of sport and activities. Way too much screentime replaced normal activities.
We’ve been in lockdown 4 months now but things are beginning to open – although bars and restaurants still only outside, no hairdressers etc, no gym or sports clubs or summer camp.
Masks are mandatory in shops and on public transport with fines for those who refuse. Kids should go back to school mid August unless we have a second wave, which a lot of people believe to be likely. We shall see.
Feel sad for the world just now
I live in Massachusetts where things were quite bad in late March, April and early May. I work a non-medical job at the largest hospital in the state and fortunately the Massachusetts medical teams learned quite a lot from colleagues in Italy and New York (which was slightly ahead of Massachusetts). We had enough time to plan and significantly expand the ICU beds and averted disaster, though the have had quite a lot of sickness and loss of life. Our town stopped schools on March 13 and I have not been back to my office since March 11 and will not go back in the foreseeable future. We stopped going anywhere except a trip to the grocery store every 2 weeks. Our town asked us to began to wear masks in early April. Our governor has been extremely responsible and issued mask wearing order at the end of April. Due to his efforts disease cases have gone steadily down and I am hoping for the best. We have not had any specifics yet about his school will work – the first day will be September 8th for us. Because of our presidents inability to lead, each state in the US is like a country on its own. Fortunately Massachusetts, and its neighbors in New England are generally complying by wearing masks and distancing appropriately, and are being logical and doing well. We are in Phase 3 (gyms just reopened in most of the state). We will not have bars open until there is a vaccine! I do not know what the fall will bring but am really hoping the the states where people are resisting masks and other safety procedures will get a clue and comply!!!
Apartment-dwelling, mom of three, NYC-er here – and it boggles my mind to see how this has all evolved since March. It was so hard back in the spring to see various parts of the country seemingly not taking this that seriously or learning any lessons, while all my fellow city dwellers were stuck inside. Quarantining in an apartment is a whole different level. We’ve been wearing masks since March – just to get outside requires a mask for the elevator/lobby/etc. My kids literally do not comprehend it when they see other parts of the country on the news where people are all together and not wearing masks.
School right now for the fall (not until after Labor Day – NYC gets out for the summer at the end of June) is set to be a mix of in-person and remote. We’ll see how it all works out. I am cautiously optimistic that numbers here will hold steady/continue to improve and we’ll move toward “normal” school as time goes on. And I just hope that people will listen to science and do what they can to protect themselves AND others.
I’m in Wisconsin and the response has been just terrible. We have a Democratic governor, but a Republican controlled legislature that has stripped him of any decision-making abilities. The Wisconsin Supreme Court overthrew his safer-at-home order, and half the state decided that Covid was gone and it was back to life as normal. Overnight, we went from entirely closed up to bars reopening. There were no rules, no guidelines, and it has been mass chaos since then.
My own county has had few cases, but we’re a tourist destination, especially for Chicagoans, and we’ve seen an uptick in active cases from tourists.
My own family has been taking this very seriously, but a colleague openly told me a few weeks ago that she would be attending a “small gathering” on the 4th of 50-60 people! I couldn’t believe that she thought that was ok.
I can so relate to your comments about how those of us who are taking this seriously are paying the price of those who aren’t. It’s incredibly frustrating!
So dang frustrating!!
I live in the southern half of New Jersey. Our state shutdown in tandem with NYC, due to the severity of the outbreaks in the northern suburbs.
We’ve been required to wear masks in public for months now and Ive (fortunately) never seen anyone object to it and definitely credit our state’s leadership with the fact that we are (mostly) over the first wave. Retail stores are slowly opening up with social distancing markers, hand sanitizing stations, etc. everywhere but curbside pickup is encouraged. Restaurants are take-out or outdoor dining only. Inside dining was *supposed* start a week or two ago but was pushed off by the governor after a slight uptick in cases.
The hot button topic at the moment of course is how we’re going to handle the upcoming school year, which starts after Labor Day. I can’t say for sure what we’ll do. I’m fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home-mom, so there’s a distinct possibility that I’ll keep my kids home regardless of what the district decides to do but that opinion seems to change by the day. We’ll see.
I can only pray that our federal leadership changes in November. I can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel otherwise.
I do realize that is a gift to be able to complain about America, but holy cow, I feel like I’ve been embarrassed to be an American almost my whole adult life. When I hear and read about how other countries manage crises and social structures I just want to scream. Why can’t we get it together over here!
On another note — you said Americans “LOVE to make things.” I’ve never thought about that before — is that true in your experience? Are folks from other countries less into “making”? Is that an American thing? (I do, personally, love to make things!)
I totally think that, Leslie. I feel like a significant percentage of Americans have something like an “entrepreneurial spirit”. I’m sure I’m biased because I get pitched about new products and improved products daily (it’s a fun part of my job), but I swear Americans are fearless about jumping in a creating something new and trying to solve a problem.
I think we’ve also seen it with masks once it became clear they were needed. Loads of companies (big and small, established and brand new) shifted their manufacturing to masks and now there are a ton of options to fill all needs and preferences — and more options everyday. I think the same thing would have happened by the end of March if we had known masks were important then.
I’m from the UK but living in LA with two small children in an apartment. We have all been at home and distancing since early March and it feels so frustrating that it appears to have been fruitless as cases rise and lockdown continues. For a while the US and UK seemed as bad as each other but now life in Britain seems to be opening up while our numbers get scarier. I’m so disappointed and weary!
Here in Arizona, schools resume early: our district starts in early August (August 5 this year), and some area school districts start as early as late July. (I’ve never understood this, as the cost to air condition the school buildings during July and August must be astronomical, but here we are.)
Our governor recently ordered that schools could not physically reopen until at least August 17, calling this “an aspirational date.” Our district has told parents that it will resume instruction as scheduled on August 5, but that the teaching will be done 100% remotely until at least Labor Day.
As much as my husband and I are not altogether happy with the arrangements being made, we realize that our school district has little alternative. Currently Arizona is a coronavirus “hot spot,” with weeks of rising numbers of cases and hospitals near capacity. In light of the circumstances, a return to in-person school would be irresponsible and risk the lives of students and staff.
I am bracing myself for the possibility that we may be doing remote learning until Christmas, with the way things are going here. It’s not a situation I am happy about, but it’s one I will have to deal with.
I live in Nashville, Tennessee. We have been quarantining very strictly, and so have many of our friends. But way more people have not taken COVID seriously at all. People continue to party downtown. People are not wearing masks. Target parking lot looks like it is Christmas. My daughter just got invited to a birthday party. I’m seeing Florida beach vacation pictures on facebook. And a parent of my daughter’s friend is posting conspiracy theories that the whole thing is a hoax. The school district announced that fall school will start online. Sigh
We are in Maine and the number of cases is very low due to our governor being sensible and responsive to any upticks. We recently entered phase 3 and masks have been made mandatory – you cannot enter a store without wearing one. Even in peak tourist season here, the number of cases per day have been consistently low.. around 20 or less for the past 2 weeks for the entire state. When there was a small uptick to 40-50 cases in late June, the governor quickly changed the rules around masks (making them mandatory) and the numbers went down again.. even into the single digits twice. It’s still amazing to me that this virus and the mask wearing has turned political and state governments are wiling to turn blind eyes to virus rates that are out of control.
My husband works for the government and will be back full-time in his office while I either partially or fully homeschool my kindergartener and 3rd grader while working my part time job. Our school district has not yet decided what their plans are but those are the two options they are considering. I’m hesitant to send my 5 year old even if the numbers are low because she has sickness-induced asthma and catches everything…. I’m just praying that a vaccine is able to be produced at some point this year so we can all regain our sanity!
In Germany, the numbers of cases are relatively low. All in all our government reacted reasonably, I think, and with a heavy emphasis on scientific research.
But recent flare ups in slaughterhouses and refugee housing throw a sharp light on the bad working and living conditions we allow to happen in this country.
Schools tentatively opened up before the summer break which meant less school hours per week, one week online learning and one week learning in school.
I worry for the families without proper internet access and digital devices and without the necessary resources like language skills, education, time (to just name a few) to help their children learn.
We´ll see, what the new school year brings. Hopefully further break outs of the virus can be managed locally. Everybody is strained and I do not want to imagine going into general shutdown again.
As Anne said, I think our government in Germany has responded reasonable.
However, we are now realising that our educational system is not up to date and e-learning is hardly possible. Germany has much to improve here.
Also, the different German states are now discussing abolishing mask wearing which I think is a bad move and will put more people at risk again…
My thoughts exactly.
I live in Phoenix. It’s bad here. School has been delayed and will probably be delayed again. My older children will be fine with distance learning– we won’t like it, but we’ll make it work. But my youngest is in special ed, and these kids have been ignored. There is no good way to make special ed, with the therapy and hands-on specialty learning involved, work over the internet. It makes me want to scream.
It’s so fascinating to hear about the French experience. Are people there using contact tracing apps as widely as Germany and Italy are?
My family has been in strict lockdown since March and it makes me angry that so many fellow Americans have undermined our sacrifice (and it’s been a huge sacrifice) either because of their selfishness or anti-Science bias.
“ My family has been in strict lockdown since March and it makes me angry that so many fellow Americans have undermined our sacrifice (and it’s been a huge sacrifice) either because of their selfishness or anti-Science bias.”
Same with our family in MT. I cry every day out of sadness and frustration.
I am in New Zealand and we went into strict quarantine at the end of March. I am in Auckland which is NZ biggest city and it felt like Xmas day. No traffic noises, just lots of bird song. Our Prime Minister held daily updates at 1 pm with the Director General of Health where we as a team of 5 million were kept up to date with what the situation was. As a country we were made to feel like we are all in this together. For everyone who lost work, there is a weekly payout. As a worker in the entertainment industry I receive around $600 a week as I am now completely unemployed. Everything has now reopened fully but this was done very carefully and slowly. We went 10 days with no new cases and then the stay home was lifted and and we all went into the new normal. To come to NZ now, you have to apply for entry and they are letting in a limited amount of people who the have to Quarantine in a government approved site. Apparently, you are processed at the Airport then put on a bus and taken to a Quarantine Hotel, up to your room and thats it for 2 weeks. There is testing going on there and any new cases we have have all come in from overseas. I think there are 25 active cases at the moment, none in the general population just all from newcomers. It feels very safe here although the stress of no work is a little daunting. WE had 22 deaths in total, mostly very elderly people with underlying heath issues and while that was incredibly sad we can thank the quick work of our government (Both sides of the house worked as a team for the health of ALL not just for political gains)
Just so very grateful to be here in our Paradise.
We had a similar experience in Tasmania, and now have had zero cases for a number of weeks. Contact tracing was heavily used, to great effect. We felt like we were all in this together. Some people complained early on that schools remained open, but our state education department began giving regular live briefings and clear instructions. Each stage of lockdown was spaced out so we could see what the effects were, then each stage of the reopening was similarly spaced out. Our current situation is comforting, but the news coming from Victoria and overseas about flare ups makes me uneasy about the future still…
I’m in NYC, no kids, working from home since mid March. I deeply sympathize with my coworkers who have young children at home. Our office hasn’t made a decision about returning to the office for nonessential staff but I have a feeling it will depend on how schools will reopen in the fall. NYC might sound like its doing well from afar but everyday I see people with masks but not wearing them correctly or just holding them. People are definitely letting down their guard, especially as it gets warmer and harder to have masks on in public. It’s impossible to socially distance without a mask in the heart of NYC – even in parks. Ive only been on public transit twice since mid March, both on a bus, and the last ride there were two teens without masks behaving as if it was 2019 – eating, drinking, making out on the bus. I wanted to ask if they’d been living under a rock for the past 4 months. And now we have to worry about these kids who think they won’t get very sick and people from other states. It feels like never ending quarantine.
I honestly cry every day about this. My husband and I are both teachers at private high schools in NY/CT, and we are parents of a second-grader who goes to public school.
The private schools where we teach seem determined to do hybrid learning in the fall, but that means that we will see half our students one day, half the next, and teachers will be in school all day. Meanwhile, NY public schools in our area seem likely to be doing hybrid learning too–so who is supposed to be home with our son while we are teaching?
And none of it, frankly, seems remotely grounded in science (WHO says the disease is probably airborne, and it’s a bad idea to sit in closed spaces for long periods with people outside your family–in other words, school), and though families can opt out and do all distance learning if they don’t feel safe, teachers can’t. Maybe we could make it work if we had spent the spring thinking creatively about using alternative spaces or recruiting extra staff (all those kids who want to take a gap year now), but it’s too late for that.
I try not to spend all day worrying about what I can’t control, but it’s hard. Because these problems exist because our federal government refused to act aggressively, shutting things down across the country, implementing real testing and contact tracing. My health, my son’s health, my students’ health…all needlessly at risk because our President doesn’t have the ability to admit vulnerability or the attention span to deal with a complex problem.
I’m in Chicago. I’m so frustrated. Our governor, and our mayor have been- for the most part- stellar. (So many excellent Lori Lightfoot stay at home memes.) I think we lifted the lockdown too early. Our numbers have been steadily on the rise. I don’t understand all of the people hanging out with one another- parties, road trips, day-camps, barbecues…it’s infuriating.
As for school- I don’t care what CPS’s plan is for the fall, my children will only be e-learning (distance learning) until there is a vaccine- or something miraculous happens. Two of my kids are at an extremely crowded school- (and sadly CPS doesn’t have the reputation of having the cleanest
buildings) and the other will be a freshman at high school not in our neighborhood… there are just too many unknowns- too many “what ifs” that cannot be answered. I’m grateful that I am in a position to stay at home with them, but my head wants to explode that the government hasn’t stepped up to make staying at home possible for everyone. :/
I’m a twenty-year-old almost senior in college and I’m livid basically all the time at how dedicated our government has been to corporations and “the economy” (aka the ultrawealthy) over and against humans. We are sacrificing people who are poor and BIPOC at the altar of capitalism. It’s not good for (almost) anyone. It didn’t have to be this way and it makes me sick every day.
I live in Arizona. I will not be sending my kids back to school. We were asked to fill out a form answering whether we would be sending our kids in person or distance learning. Of the parents I’ve spoken to I’m the only one who chose distance. Since I am a SAHM having my kids home makes for busy days and thats difficult but manageable. I feel like keeping them home is the least I can do to help the school situation.
We had a stricter lockdown in Virginia but unfortunately, have lost most of the gains we made, especially in my region at the beach which relies heavily on tourism at this time of year. I see most people wearing masks and keeping distance but I’m also infuriated by our last reopening phase which includes suggestions rather than mandates for large gatherings, etc. Additionally, my partner and I are raising a blended family so we have young adult children coming and going between our home and their other parents’ home. It’s frustrating that we have done so much to follow guidelines (I’m a bit of a germaphobe even before this) but still feel like sitting ducks hoping not to get ill. Our district has no plan for return yet. Additionally, four of our kids are in college, grad school, or technical school and all four have different plans about what they’d like to do this fall. :/
Reading these comments is helpful in feeling that I’m not totally alone. It is so hard to see many people acting like nothing has changed and throwing all of our shelter in place work out the window.
I am in (very conservative) eastern Oregon and masks were just required statewide last week. Most people here are now wearing them in public begrudgingly, but it’s a bit too late. Our small rural county is leading the state in outbreaks and my husband even had to give his employer an ultimatum that they let him work from home or he would quit (no one was masking there during the workday). Our school has not announced their plans for the year, but we are hoping they offer fully online as an option. If not we will likely homeschool our 6 year old. We are very fortunate that we have the ability to do so since we both work from home, but I know many others are not and I’m so mad that it’s come to this.
I have an old friend who still lives in my hometown (WI), who told me that she will not wear a mask because it will not prevent her from getting infected. She immediately went on to say that she knows that people can be sick without showing symptoms, and that she understands that masks help a lot to prevent transmitting the virus if you’re sick. But still, she refuses. Personal liberties and all that.
I told her that she is either stupid or selfish, and I would let her decide which.
So many Americans feel the way she does. We are a country of selfish morons, led by the biggest most selfish moron of them all.
Dave Eggers on testing. : D
I’m in the Dallas, Texas area and teach high school students for a smaller public school district. My mom lives with me. She is close to 90.We have been very careful since March. I do not understand how anyone can think it is now safe to open Texas schools. I also don’t understand why more pressure isn’t being placed on businesses that rely on minimum wage labor to solve the child care issue.
My younger daughter teaches special needs 3-year-olds. Her students didn’t do well with remote learning. And many of them a medically fragile and school is not safe for them. She also has 3 kids, one a newborn and she is at high risk due to Crohns. What is she suppose to do? So many people have told her she should quit teaching if she is she is worried about going back.
I love my school district. If the governor would shut the schools until the cases drop, we teachers could do a fabulous job with remote learning.
We Americans should be embarrassed by our response and attitude. With DJT as president, nothing else should be expected.
I’m in Canada in Toronto. We went into lockdown on March 13th, Ans my husband was temporarily laid off two weeks later. My part time job was also taken away around that time, but luckily we were able to both receive CERB from the government and have stayed home since then. My husband is a transplant patient, so he’s immunosuppressed and we also live in a condo so going outside in the elevator was stressful at first. Now the kids know to wear their masks when we have to be in potential shared spaces. There hasn’t been a plan set for back to school, but i can’t imagine sending my kids. Our numbers are very low, and people in my neighbourhood are very good about social distancing. Once the actual parks reopened it was nice to be able to sit in a park with the kids. Playgrounds are still closed, and honestly we are mostly just in our condo all day. We are considering homeschooling for the upcoming school year unless we get a better idea of what is happening. Our online learning wasn’t amazing for the spring, and my son had a ton of anxiety around it. Because of equity, none of the kids were graded from March to June and all schoolwork was optional. We stopped doing it in April, it was mostly busywork or math apps. So i don’t have a lot of faith in what could be offered in September online….
I live on the border of Philadelphia, and our initial quarantine was very strict: masks, shelter in place, only essential businesses open, no gathering larger than 10 people. Our township/county is finally in “green,” but that still means masks are required at every indoor space as well as other restrictions. Our parish re-opened in mid-June (my husband is the priest) at 50% capacity, masks required, physical distance seating, etc. I don’t mind the masks—whether or not they actually help, they’re just a small annoyance.
My husband is “attending” an on-line school board meeting for the school district that will address re-opening in the fall as I type this. I’d really like my two high schoolers to go back to school in person in the fall (my other children have always been homeschooled, so not much is changing for them.) I am concerned because we live in a school district with many vulnerable students—ones who are not supported at home and who need the meals that the school district provides. These kids will just fall through the cracks if they are not able to attend school full-time.
My biggest frustration has been all the complaining and misinformation I’ve seen all over the internet! “Masks are essential/masks are worthless”, “you should wear masks/you shouldn’t wear masks”, “the government is taking away our rights/why doesn’t the government do something”, “the virus is a hoax/the virus is spreading like wildfire” and on and on. It’s disheartening.
I’m in Oregon and we have been home since March. My husband has been able to work online. I care for my 95-year-old mother, so our household has been very careful–only going out to get food, other necessities, or going for a short drive when we get stir crazy at home. When things opened up, the virus cases shot up. We have not even gone to the hair salon (even though they are open) to avoid any risk to my mom–my hair is sooo long! We do visit with my niece and her young family but they are isolated too.
Sympathy to all the parents and teachers at this difficult time, although my children are raised.
Honestly, long before Covid I used to think of my kids’ classrooms as germ factories. I’m no germ freak, but I wanted to come in and sanitize every hard surface during every recess. Some rooms didn’t even have windows to allow for germ-cleansing sunshine or fresh air.
Good luck to all of you!
As much as I hate to say it. My kids have to go back. As a single mom of two its the impossible decision, nobody will pay my bills while I take a leave of absence and while I already worked from home having them here the last 4 months has been exhausting. I am working at 5 or 6 am and then again until midnight or 1 so I can take care of them or play with them while they are awake. And this is with screen time at an all time high! 3 weeks ago I hired a sitter who works hourly at a school and was off for the summer and he’s been a huge support but I can’t sustain paying $400/week the entire year. As huge as the risk I can’t have them here indefinitely without quitting my job. As major school districts around the us are switching to elearning only I am literally terrified our district will follow suit.
Katie, I feel for you. I’m so sorry this is your situation. Please know that I am thinking about you and your kids in the weeks to come.
Please don’t feel bad saying that. It’s just true and it’s not your fault that we’re being given a selection of terrible options with no support.
I’m in Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory. The measures we’ve taken in Australia to deal with the virus are very similar to what you described in France, except that masks are not and have never been mandatory. I feel sure that if they were, the vast majority of people would use them. Like the other small states and territories of Australia, the ACT has very little Covid incidence now. We had no cases for almost 2 months, then recently a handful arising from contacts with the state of Victoria, where there is a new outbreak and a return to strict lockdown measures. It has been good to see our Federal and state governments generally working well together, including across party lines, to have consistent and sensible policies, guided by science. I feel for the people of the United States who have not had that good fortune.
We are in Seattle, very close to where the first large Covid-19 outbreak was reported in the USA. Our governor closed the state quickly, and our mayor and school district have been very cooperative. Schools closed March 11, 2020. All businesses in our county and state closed soon after, except essential businesses such as stores, banks and pharmacies. My husband and I can work remotely, and are considered “essential”, so we have been working at home full-time since our kids’ school closed on March 11th. We are now in Phase 2 in King County – more businesses are open. But, we have requirements for mask wearing in public spaces – even outdoors – if people cannot maintain 6 feet distances.
These limitations seem reasonable. And, most of our neighbors and friends are following limitations. However, there are idiots who don’t. Even in the first few weeks our next-door-neighbors held a “Pandemic Party,” inviting their friends to an backyard BBQ. My neighbor continues to invite people over every weekend, and they sit at a table on the back deck and drink. Alki Beach – a well-known beach in Seattle – was flooded with party goers after schools closed.
Most infuriatingly, my 76-year-old father-in-law, who has an immune disorder and is receiving chemotherapy, IGNORES all restrictions. He’s a Trumpster, and believes the virus is a hoax. My husband and I got serious flack when we didn’t show up for either Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. When we Face-Timed in, we saw the entire rest of the family at his house, rubbing elbows, not a mask in sight. My father-in-law has been hospitalized 3x in the last few months due to low white blood cell counts, but he still doesn’t think he is at risk.
Both my 1st grader and 7th grader’s K-8 school closed on March 11, 2020. On-line school was a s***show. Teachers had only a few hours to prepare for the closing – they learned about it at 10am and the school closed at 2:30pm. Teachers scrambled to get kids resources. Middle school teachers handed out iPads from our school supplies to ANY student who didn’t have technology at home. Elementary teachers put together packets for students. The initial plan was for schools to be closed 3 weeks – but we never reopened.
For the first 3 weeks, our school district told us that on-line learning was “optional.” They then changed direction to require on-line learning, but had no universal plan how to provide services. Our 1st grade teacher (bless her heart), tried her hardest, but the school district focused on high school and middle school students and gave no direction to elementary teachers. So, teachers had to make it up on the fly. My 7-year-old had to navigate no less than 8!!! apps/websites to access her learning. About 6 weeks in, she finally got 1 teacher meeting a day – M/W/F class meetings and T/Th small reading group meetings. We heard from other elementary school parents that they received no teacher meetings in 3+ months.
My 12-year-old was able to navigate his on-line learning. His middle school teacher team was AMAZING! The school district provided little/no direction. But, within a 3 weeks, the teacher team had classes up and running. Not full time classes, but assignments, daily meetings/chats, and end-of-week quizzes. And, when the BLM protests started, his history teacher completely flipped the curriculum to cover the Civil Rights movement. Technology has not been an issue – but THANK GOODNESS our teachers handed out iPads from the school supply. The school district didn’t hand out technology (iPads or laptops) to students until 2 months after school closed, and I am sure that many students in the district were left far, far behind.
Both our kids lost their special education services. This mattered less to my 12-year-old. He has anxiety, and being home on-line actually improved his situation. My daughter lost her speech therapy, which she needs. She also lost her friends and social contacts and has been alternatively furious, sad, and depressed. It has been miserable. And, her reading skills actually declined while in lock-down, and we are not sure how far behind she will be in the fall. I worry about the long-term impacts on our littlest learners.
The school district still does not have a plan for the fall. We have received surveys about whether we would like to do on-line or in-person learning, or a blend of both. I would LOVE my kids to be at school at least part-time (especially my angry, depressed 7-year-old). But, I understand that teachers don’t feel safe – they have families too. We are just waiting and exhausted . . . . and we don’t have any idea what the plan is.
FINALLY – I feel lucky to still have a job because my job is considered “essential.” I work for the State of Washington as an administrative law judge. My agency conducts hearings of public benefits – child support, food assistance, medical assistance, disabled children, unemployment benefits, special education cases. I also conduct hearings in child abuse and elder abuse cases. While I am still employed, many people are not. My hearings are full of scared and miserable people. Child abuse referrals are up because people are stressed and at home alone with little support. Severely disabled children, who may have received one-on-one care at school, have no care at all and their parents are exhausted and miserable and about to fall apart. People who have lost their jobs are applying for cash, food and medical assistance for the first time and are ashamed. In nearly every hearing I hear children in the background. In nearly every hearing, someone weeps. The toll on our populace, especially the most vulnerable, is enormous. We will be reaping the negative consequences for a long, long time.
If you have read through this, thank you. I pray every day for those who have no supports and no one to rely on. We feel incredibly lucky.
Thank you for sharing. My heart is breaking for your 7 year old and for the families you are seeing in court. It’s so important for the reality of what so many are going through are shared.
Our K and 2nd grade experience was just liky your 7 year old’s. A million apps with a million passwords. Random, confusing, endless computer-based assignments stacking up. Nagging and meltdowns. AWOL teachers. We are withdrawing them and homeschooling instead of participating in the virtual learning fiasco again.
In RI, where I live, we’ve handled it similarly to our neighbors in the NE (MA, CT, NY). We went on lockdown mid March, and only trips out of the house were for groceries or the pharmacy. Our jobs are easily done at home, and that hasn’t changed much for us. We do not have school aged children, but many of our coworkers do, and I can see how stressful it is for them to try and get work done when your kid is having technical problems getting to her online class. In my town, everyone is pretty much on the same page and we wear masks out, and in any store or establishment. Things are starting to open up, and people are more relaxed, so I am waiting to see if our numbers will begin to rise.
It is so disappointing to see the lack of leadership and the complete disbelief to what is happening here, and I think this is what is destroying our country. We can be caring, and enterprising, and manage tough situations like this together. Instead, it is the exact opposite. Our leaders question, and then silence the scientists when presented with uncomfortable facts, and it turns into a political ploy that just widens the gap. I’m so discouraged with our leadership right now, and not just the president, but all those who pander to him and are in it for their own personal gain. I can’t believe this is what we’ve come to.
I live in Massachusetts and I thank my lucky stars I live in the Northeast. I will never live anywhere else in this country. If the rest of the US had done what we had done and other responsible countries had done…so frustrating. I sympathize with so many of the thoughtful commentators who are trying to do the right thing where they are but have their efforts cancelled out by the irresponsible ones in their community. Seeing how France is handling this pandemic and how robust their government institutions are fills me with such longing for how things could be here. I only hope this is a wake up call for change. Medicare for all, public infrastructure, and simply caring for our fellow human beings. Vote in November, if we make it that far, and stay safe. And support all of our teachers who will have to literally put their lives on the line this September.
I live in Belgium and the lock down was pretty similar to France. And yes, lock down was HARD (full time working single mom with three kids here). Since end of May, schools and shops etc. have gradually been re-opening. Wearing a mask is mandatory basically everywhere where people get together – e.g. in public transport (incl. long distance), all shops, museums, libraries, churches and other venues of worship. At work, max. half of staff is allowed to be present and others work from home, and a mask is mandatory all the time, except in ones own office (if it’s not a shared one).
Opening of school was similar to France. In the fall, school will start on the 1st of September almost normally for the younger ones (kindergarden and primary), though there will be mandatory hand washing, kids in one class will not mix with others and teachers will wear masks. For secondary, there will be school 4 days a week and one day of online learning. Wearing a mask will be mandatory for everyone, incl. pupils.
Hence, there is some serious mask sowing going on here ;).
It’s great to see how it looks in other countries. We live in Switzerland (German speaking part) and maybe .01% of people are wearing masks. As of last week, it is now compulsory to wear masks on public transport. Before the pandemic, it was only a recommendation. The numbers in Switzerland are quite low and so I have a hard time understanding why our numbers are low here and the majority of the population is not wearing a mask. The Swiss are rule followers through and through so maybe that has been the biggest advantage. People are still not kissing or hugging when greeting others and for the most part do a good job of maintaining the 1 meter distance. The Swiss very adamantly believe that children cannot spread the disease. Last month, my 6 year old daughter had a fever and sore throat (it was strep) and they would not test her for covid under the reasoning that studies show children cannot pass it on to others. It’s a hard to believe. The Swiss sent all primary age kids back to school in mid May (5 days a week) and saw no bad ramifications for doing so. The virus seems so unpredictable!
We went into lockdown in March here in Colorado. My children 7, 5, 3, 10 months haven’t played with a single child, we haven’t playrd with a single friend or family member in all these months. The hardest part is when my children see all the children playing together or my family facetiming telling us to come visit and having to remind my sad children why we are being careful. Do you know how many family and friends have thought us paranoid?
I would love my kiddos to go back to school in the fall, but only if safe because they NEED social interaction. They miss people and friends and it breaks my heart. They have all be troopers, but my oldest broke down one night saying she missed her friends and wished she could go on all the family trips my fsmily is getting together for.
I wish people would stop being selfish! Now that my kiddos can come grocery shopping with me (taking 4 small kiddos to the store during a pandemic is no joke), even my 3 year old has been able to keep her mask on every single time.
Church opened up this month, each ward gets one week to go. Ours is this sunday and we will NOT be going. We can still do home church just great and want those you really NEED to go to get the chance and feel safe doing so.
My husband’s extended family just all got COVID over the 4th, they all got together in a different state, and his uncle is on a ventilator for the long haul. Why do people, who have the choice, risk it?
I’m a k-8 vice principal and also a single mom to a 2 and 4 year old. My daycare provider is reducing her hours so she has time to clean more, etc. She’s also implementing strict sick policies that mean kids will be kept home sick a lot more – for all the right reasons. However the state has no plan yet. I’m not looking for childcare because I don’t know what I need yet. I’m worried that in August when we finally know what we’re doing, we’ll have several teachers at every single school resign or take leaves of absence because their own children’s needs are incompatible with what’s expected of them at work. Finding childcare that accommodates a teacher’s schedule (early am drop off) that’s affordable on teacher salaries is really hard in MA.
I think it just too late to expect the entire public school workforce to be able to mobilize and be ready for anything come September in a way that is safe, equitable, and practical. I think there are options to use schools as drop in centers or online learning centers for students who need a safe place to be, but those do not seem to be on the docket.
I worry my kids will need to be kept home sick many days a month, that I will in turn be home from work with them a lot. I worry the entire workforce will be simply unable to pull this off, especially the lack of time we’re being given to prepare.
Here in NZ it sounds very similar to France. Nothing much changed for my family as hubby is an essential worker and I’m home with kids. The main difference was that we could only go for walks from our home, we couldn’t go to the park or beach etc., and I had to do the groceries in the weekend so the kids could stay home. Masks were never required, and I think most people didn’t have access to them anyway.. they got so expensive to buy! I think we had two weeks straight of no new cases in May/June, so the country opened up again and even now it’s only a few new cases a week (which all seem to be travel related). Schools are fully back now, restaurant restrictions have lifted, no more queuing at stores. I don’t think people will be losing their homes as the govt has that covered, but there will probably be ongoing effects seen in business for a long time here. It’s really hard to imagine the scale of what’s happening in the US and really heartbreaking