Today was my students’ first day for the 2020-21 school year. K-3 students returned in person unless their families opted out for remote instruction. 4-8 students were 100% remote. I’m a middle school academic dean. Our middle school includes grades 5-8.
It was a bit odd to hear silence upstairs during the first day of school. I’m not going to lie. I’m so glad that I did not have to help kids with locker combinations. That’s tortuous. Small blessings, right?
Although everything wasn’t perfect (is it ever on the first day), I had a good day. I’m on bus duty this year. I got to see the K-3 students exit the buses. They seemed so happy to be back. The first little girl tried to hug a teacher. It broke my heart. The teacher pivoted quickly to a socially distanced greeting and the student moved along. Seeing this interaction reminded me of my son and the conversation we had last week.
I asked both of my sons how they felt about remote instruction. They went back to school on July 30th, and they are learning online because their district is 100% remote. One of my sons said he liked learning at home, but he didn’t like the amount of work he had to do. He told me he had less work in 3rd grade. I reminded him that the workload increases for each grade.
My other son also didn’t mind completing work at home. He said he liked having more time to get his work done. He also shared that he still wanted to be at school. When I asked why, he shared that he missed high fives and hugs. My husband interjected with, “Who are you trying to hug?” He shared it was no one in particular. He just missed hugging anyone that’s not in our house. He mentioned how he couldn’t hug his grandparents, teachers, friends, and the list went on.
We watched some Twilight Zone (the original, not the new one) and cuddled for a bit. I thought about the long terms effects of limited physical contact.
This brings me back to my first day back with students. We don’t know what is going on in our students’ heads or what they may miss. We are going to have to work on that relationship component twice as hard. Some needs, like hugs, we won’t be able to meet. We must try to meet everything else while also trying to stay safe during this pandemic.
Day one is done. Many more to go, but I’m ready.