What Will “Back to School” Mean in 2020?

The Coronavirus epidemic has essentially turned everything in this country upside down – it’s caused some businesses to close their doors permanently, forced businesses to drastically change their business models, forced businesses to lay off or fire employees and has turned the education of children and college students upside down. And the same is true for the parents, who’ve been forced to scramble for child care after getting called back to work – or juggle the tasks of ensuring their kiddos are being properly educated “virtually” at home.

From everything I’ve heard – it hasn’t been easy. A friend of mine whom is also a teacher, said she’s had to “sit on” one of her children to make sure she does her virtual lessons and that she “won’t sit still.” Add to that the fact that she was also working from home virtually educating her OWN high school students!”

I said to her, “Well, imagine what it must’ve been like for your daughter’s teacher if you were having that much trouble with her.”

“Oh she was pretty good for her teacher – she’s not so good about having her mom tell her do to her school work.”

Ouch!

Rewind to about three days ago or so, and I’m sitting probably about 20 feet away from my supervisor, whom is a mother of two young daughters – both of whom were just starting their public education. She was sitting at a break room table, and I was sitting on a couch over in the corner (I’ve always been a social distancer at work – and well, the couch is far more comfy to sit on then those hard plastic chairs). Still, I could tell something was…wrong. So I asked…

“Hey…are you OK?”

“No,” she said. Then she started unloading – and crying – about her half brother, whom has taken no interest in getting involved with his two half sisters and with his nieces – and she also unloaded a bit about the stresses of learning that her kids’ school district will start out all virtually in the fall.

“I don’t want my girls to keep falling behind,” she said – adding that she was having difficulty getting them to stick to their virtual lessons.

Though I don’t have any children of my own, I get it – sort of – though I don’t have any real answers – I did my best to empathize with her situation. And thankfully, another of my co-workers was there to talk to her too (whew)! It was nice to have a little backup, but I digress! So I tried to put on my helping hat…

“Well, kids do need structure. Make sure they’re not sleeping in, keep them on a schedule, tell them if they finish X lesson and X lesson, they get to have a half hour “recess” outside.” I think recess is kind of important! Let the kids run around a bit to burn off steam in between learning their multiplication tables, learning how to properly construct a sentence, learning to spell and learning cursive. Wait…do kids even learn cursive anymore? Or how to tell time, for that matter? And is there such a thing as phonics? Anyone else remember that paper we had to use for our phonics lessons in the 1970s? Beige with big areas in which to write – including dashed lines for the halfway points of letters? This is the best facsimile I could find in Google images:

I really don’t have the answers! This whole situation has to be pretty tough all around! Every kid is different – some will do just fine if you plunk them in front of a laptop or tablet and tell them to “shut up and study.” On “South Park,” they had an episode where the “shut up and study” method was employed with students as an alternative to prescribing behavior modifying medicines to overactive children:

I’m sorry…but this episode was just TOO funny!

Other kids…not so much. Chances are if you check in some of them they’ll be looking at YouTube videos of animals doing cute stuff, watching videos of people doing stupid death defying stuff, posting videos on Tik Tok or (the horror) – they just might find daddy’s porn stash!

“Daddy? Why do you have videos of naked people on the computer?”

“Uh… that’s actually for your sex education lesson, which will happen in 50 years.”

Let’s be honest – for some parents, it was probably kind of nice having a school to ship the kids off to for a few hours! Some school districts in my area are attempting a “hybrid” approach with part time classroom learning, others are going all virtual. Parents are also being given the choice of keeping their kids home for all virtual education, which I can completely understand. Schools will likely become hot spots for virus outbreaks…let’s face it – most kids weren’t clean freaks before the pandemic – and won’t wash their damn hands unless bribed to do so! And we’re supposed to believe they’ll keep masks on their faces all day? Maybe if it was Halloween! Social distancing for kids? Not gonna happen…

Maybe you’ve opted for the all virtual education for your kiddo. Can you imagine having a wise ass kid like Bart Simpson having to do his schoolwork at home? Well, some writers for “The Simpsons” thought of that!

Bart had his own desk when his mother home schooled him. Would this be helpful for kids now?

Then I mentioned to my supervisor that episode of “The Simpsons” where Bart got expelled from school (just about everything has a Simpsons reference in my universe) and Marge took over and attempted to home school him. She set up a blackboard in the garage, gave him a desk to use, and even installed a bell. She said that since they make chalkboard paint, maybe she could set aside a portion of the wall with chalkboard paint? Hmmm!

Maybe kids having their own little desk or table to use might actually help! Give them their own little work space. And why not have kids make sure to dress for school – even if they’re not going into an actual classroom? I’m not saying they should go as far as wearing actual school uniform apparel (polo shirts, blouses, pleated skirts, khaki bottoms) – but stress to the kids the importance of what they’re doing – tell them to change out of their Spongebob jammies and put on some real pants, dammit! If they’re dressed to perform a certain task (in this case, virtual classwork), maybe that task will seem more important to them. Tell them they don’t get to put on “play clothes” until they’re done with school. Their parents don’t get to wear their jammies to work after all!

Honestly…I don’t really have any answers. Like everyone else – I just have lots, and lots of questions! Especially about how all of this is going to shake out on college campuses – telling students to quarantine and social distance (yeah, right)! I’ve already heard that my own alma mater Central Michigan University is having problems with kids attending big parties, quarantined kids escaping designated COVID dorms and my gosh – I’m willing to be they’re probably DRINKING AND HAVING SEX WITH EACH OTHER TOO! IKR…

Bender speaking the truth about humans!

The horror…kids these days! Shaking our fists at them only makes their behavior worse! šŸ™‚

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