So now it starts to end

Around here anyway. Your start time may vary.

I know that some schools have allowed for parents to return to pick up things left before the March Break already. Some may make it happen shortly in the future. In a regular world, things just get forgotten over the break and reunited on the first Monday back. This year, it was delayed an additional two weeks. Then more delays until the decision to close buildings until the end of the year while school continued elsewhere.

Locker cleanout time was a horrible task to have to supervise in a previous life. In our case, homerooms were held for half an hour and the caretakers had placed garbage bins and bags in the hallways. With checklist in hand, we had to go up and down our homeroom list checking that lockers were cleaned out. We were looking for leftover lunch bags and food, library books, and anything that wasn’t necessary for the final day of the school year.

It didn’t take long to fill the garbage bins and bags, I’ll tell you. I always felt badly for the caretakers and placed ours in one spot at the end of the event for easy pickup. To be honest, while they groaned and griped, I think most of the students were actually happy to end up with a clean/organized locker, even if it was just going to be for a couple of weeks. The only hitch were those who shared their lockers with friends (breaking school rules) and were hesitant to make cleaning decisions for them.

It doesn’t take long on social media to see teachers and friends showing how it’s going to end this year. Lines of clear plastic bags by homeroom in the gym. Sadly, it reminded me of cleanups from an airplane crash. When I think about it, it’s not dissimilar.

Going back, I’m hearing of the challenges from teachers of going into their schools. Ironically, the inside of a school might well be the safest from the virus places, having been shuttered for so long. It’s not pleasant having to be inside a building all masked up. For the most part, schools are warm, safe, and embracing place. Not so now. Knowing teachers, they’d bring their own personal sanitizers as well. You’d hate to be caught short because the school and/or district hadn’t provided enough. Each personal item as they’re collected would bring back memories of the student who would soon hopefully be reunited with it. It’s a sad activity.

Then come the rules. Education loves rules. I heard a complaint that it would take multiple trips to the school because of having multiple kids and pickup was on a strict timetable. Education loves timetables. Then, there was another rule about how many people were actually allowed in the school and gym at the same time. Get used to it; education in the future is going to have to learn how to love social distancing. You might as well get used to the new concept of lining up. Education loves lining up.

My heart and best wishes go out to all educators who are going through this process. They don’t teach you stuff like this in Teachers’ College.

It will be a sad process. Make sure that you take some time when you get home to be with family or have a Zoom beer/wine with a friend or colleague. As always, you need to take care of yourself.

7 thoughts on “So now it starts to end

  1. Thanks for this post, Doug! I’ll admit that it made me all teary-eyed, as I thought about going in last week and packing up our student belongings. I think that we’ll be back in at least one more time to clean up our rooms for the summer. I’m getting that lump in my throat just thinking about it. Everything in that room holds such memories, and packing it up without finishing the year as we usually do, seems to change the power of those memories too. I also start to wonder about what our classrooms will look like for next year. Can we have that collaborative plasticine table? Back in March, kids were creating an ice cream store/house here (instagram.com/p/B9sUiOehnxd). Now it’s half done, and I wonder, will this space ever see such huddled, excited groups of kids again? What about our tire tables that our students love so much? Or even our eating table? Can a Self-Reg lunch break continue to happen next year? What about shared books, building materials, LEGO, and creative items … or will kids always need their own supplies? I’m guessing that we won’t have all of these answers (or even some of them) when we go back in to clean up, but it’s hard not to look at the space and wonder. I’m taken back to our playdate from yesterday morning, when one child said to us and her friend, “I want to go back to school. I don’t want any more school on the computer. But the virus is still out there, so we can’t go back yet.” Totally heartbreaking as she started to tear up, and we all thought about heading back to school. What will that look like? How do we get kids to still love it — the space, the relationships, and the learning — as much as they do right now, even if physical distancing becomes a reality for next year? And how do we keep 3-, 4-, and 5-year olds, six feet apart (I could ask the same thing for many other primary-aged students)? Yes, your post from today got me writing, and I probably should have just created a post of my own, but thanks for the cathartic opportunity to let everything out.

    Aviva

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  2. I’m ready to clean it all up and close the books on the year. I would typically clean a bit at a time over 2 weeks so I don’t end up staying late on the last day. This time it’ll be one day and out, done or not. I think I can do it! Heaven knows what will happen if they can’t wax the floors!! (Yes…sarcasm.)

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  3. I cleaned out my computer lab one day during our April break as I knew we would be out of school the rest of the year. Even in these times, our teachers have 24/7/365 access to the school but we’ve been told to keep our distance from each other. PPE is provided for teachers who forget to bring it with them to school. It’s a sad way to do things though.

    The school is scheduling times for students to clean out their lockers. Families have been told they can all come in at once if they have multiple children in the school.

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    • Wow Alfred! Your comment makes me realize how different things are around the world. We’ve only been allowed into our school a couple of times, and usually for less than 30 minutes a time. All scheduled. Down to the minute. I wonder what things are like in other places.

      Aviva

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