Remote schooling in the fall

We expected the news and we think it’s the right call, but it was still hard to hear. Our kids will start the year with remote-only schooling. The plan (which is still being developed) is that teachers will be teaching online classes for some hours per day and the kids will be expected to be online for instruction and then doing assigned work on their own. It will be different than in the spring when they had daily assignments but no real-time classes.

The plan includes in-person schooling for students deemed “high-risk” based on state and federal guidelines (English language learners, students with special needs). When possible, the phased approach would open the school up for the youngest students first since they are more in need of social learning and less able to complete work independently. It’s not clear how many months each phase would last, but it seems unlikely that our kids will be back in school in 2020.

It feels like the right decision because the number of cases makes crowded schools unsafe and there was no realistic way to make a hybrid model work. We would have needed either more classroom space, more teachers, or more money to hire teachers – none of which the town has. So the plan is keep the kids at home and try to improve the learning experience from what they had last spring.

Also, the start of the school year has been delayed to September 16th. This allows the teachers and administration two full weeks to focus on making remote learning work as well as possible. It also means the kids have an even longer summer vacation.

Our girls have continued to be accepting of the situation and seem open to doing school remotely. They have spent the summer figuring out ways to stay connected to friends and so while they would prefer to see friends in person more, they have not pushed back against the plans (at least so far). This might get harder as the weather gets colder and outdoor play is less enticing, but we’ll deal with that when it comes.

This also solidifies the fact that I’ll be working from home for the months ahead. Even if the kids had been in school I wasn’t planning to go back to the office anytime soon, but this ensures that I’ll be home. Jeanne probably will be as well, although it’s more likely that she’ll be back in an office at some point this fall.

As is often the case, bad news is better than uncertainty and at least now we can spend the next month preparing (logistically and mentally) for remote schooling. It’s not how we hoped to spend the fall, but just as the teachers are doing, we’ll make the most of it.

Here is the proposal from the school department for a phased plan:

Things that went well today:

  • Hannah and her friend rode their bikes to a local lake 5 miles away for a swim; they have been great about exploring on their own
  • Caroline and her friends have turned our backyard into a hangout; I have been regularly told that I am not invited because they are going to have “girl talk”
  • Our minivan crossed the 100,000 mile mark; and although we’re starting to eye a hybrid minivan replacement next year, it keeps on chugging along
  • Champions League soccer is back on TV just in time for me to have free time to watch it

Things that did not go well:

  • World-wide cases are close to 20 million, US cases are nearing 5 million, Massachusetts is putting the brakes on reopening as cases continue to increase locally
  • Daisy has a bacterial infection on her neck and they had to shave off the fur to allow us to apply antibiotic ointment; she looks absolutely ridiculous but doesn’t seem to care
  • Jeanne’s dad had a scary fall that led to a trip to hospital, but he seems to be ok and is back home. Get well soon, Papa!

Random happy find from the web:

It always takes time to settle into a vacation, and when I awoke the following morning I instinctively reached for my phone in its usual place on the nightstand. Instead I felt the strangest thing: a book.

The book did not have a built-in clock, so I went to my kitchen, looked at the time on the microwave, then kinda stood there trying to remember what we did in the mornings in the 20th century. I think maybe we milked animals.

Cute puppy photo of the day:

Daisy got a snazzy new body suit making her look like a superhero

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