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I’m Pulling Over For Directions Because The Roadmap To Reopening Has Me Lost

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The long awaited plan to safely and effectively send our kids back to [public] school is finally here. But is it? Really?

For months, the [Palm Beach County] school board had seemingly been evaluating and re-evaluating every metric, every key issue, every everything necessary to resume in-person learning having no stone left unturned as evidenced by fifty-two pages of PowerPoint graphs, charts and colorful arrows summarizing the flow of its organization. Dare I say, after studying the material albeit fully aware I wouldn’t be getting any extra credit on the test, it actually made sense. Bravo school board. Job well done.

But wait! Don’t be fooled. I think we’re being graded on a curve because it can’t be that easy. Could [public] schools truly pull it off? Could they open in real life as smoothly as the plan appeared to be laid out on paper? Would schools re-open progressively in stages by carefully implementing staggered grade levels back in action accordingly [pages 42-44] while also executing the necessary safety measures of enhanced cleaning protocols, distribution of PPEs, supplies, maintenance and ongoing investigations of pre-existing indoor air quality concerns {pages 46-49]?

This is an open book test so let me give you the answer. The answer is NO.

And you wanna know why? Because the plan got pulled. Not only did the plan get pulled but as far as I can gather, the current plan is that there is no real plan. And why? To my [unpolished] knowledge, the chaos we’re experiencing is no fault of the school board nor the dedicated teachers and members of administration whom were working tirelessly to follow through on the plan but rather the Governor signed an executive order for the county to make a hightailed move to Phase 2 and disarmed the fifty-two page roadmap now leaving parents to decide within a few short days if we want to throw our kids into the proverbial fire all at once without knowing for sure if the fire department will show up if/when the building goes up in flames or choose to simply watch the building burn virtually from home. Those are some great options. Thanks Tallahassee [for nothing].

If this is a roadmap to reopening, am I reading it wrong? Maybe I have the map turned upside down?

If this is a roadmap to reopening, I’m pulling over for directions, because I’m lost.

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“Mom, can I please go back to school?” Said no kid ever before Covid-19 plagued the world. Yet now, kids alike are begging to get back in their seats and learn face to [six feet apart] face.

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Surely teachers want to teach and parents want their kids to return to the classroom to be taught, but not without having answers to our questions. How can we make our choice as to what’s most sound and suitable for our children when the roadmap is illegible?

The Devil You Know vs. The Devil You  Don’t Know

The Devil I Know:

  1. I know my phone rings all day long with multiple automated messages; though none of which answer the questions I have as it pertains to the plan set in place for the safety and well-being of my kids’ going back to a brick and mortar building.
  2.  I know my inbox is flooded all day long with multiple emails of information; though none of which answer the questions I have as it pertains to the plan set in place for the safety and well-being of my kids’ going back to a brick and mortar building.
  3. I know my text message alerts ding all day long with a duplication of the same information which has already been disseminated by way of voice and email; though you guessed it…. none of which answer the questions I have as it pertains to the plan set in place for the safety and well-being of my kids’ going back to a brick and mortar building.

The Devil I Don’t Know:

I don’t know the actual plan set in place for the safety and well-being of my kids’ going back to a brick and mortar building.

There Are No Stupid Questions Except The Ones Not Asked

If the saying, there are no stupid questions except the ones not asked is true, then let’s just ask the questions, shall we?

  1. How and why did we go from a well thought out plan to no plan at all?
  2. How can schools adhere to social distancing guidelines if the grade levels are no longer staggered? When the bell rings and the hallways are flooded with students, then what?
  3. How about rapid testing?  If students were tested daily upon entry wouldn’t that alleviate concerns of an outbreak? Is that an option? If it isn’t, why not? If it is, why don’t we know about it?
  4. And if there is a resurgence, how will that be handled? A recent headline in the Palm Beach Daily News read, ‘Schools Won’t Commit To Alerting Parents About COVID-19 Cases.’
  5. What will the work-around look like should Charlie Brown who remains home learning virtually have trouble understanding his teacher’s muffled wah wah wah wah wah wah instruction who will be wearing a mask while following the new concurrent model?
  6. Help us debunk the rumors. Is it fact or fiction there will be makeshift classrooms in cafeterias, libraries or portables for overflow students who will then have to watch their teacher(s) via computer from these alternate rooms? And if so, how does the school administration delineate which students remain in the assigned classroom and which students are farmed out to virtual locations? Why would a parent send their child back to brick and mortar only to have them learn from a secondary location? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of physically sending them back to school in the first place?
  7. If we chose to change our minds from virtual to brick and mortar or vice versa for that matter, how long will it take for our choice to be honored? And will there will be protocol or/or guidelines for those amended choices?
  8. Help us debunk another rumor. Is it fact or fiction that a student is not guaranteed the same teacher he/she began with at the start of the distance learning year if they return to a brick and mortar setting upon schools reopening?
  9. How do we handle lunch?
  10. What’s with the buses?
  11. Should we brace ourselves for the carpool line situation?
  12. Local administrators are trying their best to share the new, ever-changing information but is it a case of too little too late, or simply just not nearly enough pertinent data because they themselves don’t have the answers either? Why don’t they have answers? Shouldn’t principals and guidance counselors have answers by now?
  13. Umm, has anyone surveyed the teachers? Don’t they get a say? They should get a say. Their jobs are impossible under normal circumstances; I can barely fathom how this pandemic has changed the only landscape they know. Maybe take a cue from the teachers in Sarasota and read about how they’ve spoken up before our county runs amok.
  14. How come other states seem to have gotten it right with their hybrid plans while once again Floriduh falls short?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      While the district still doesn’t have specific answers to many of the lingering questions, I do know if the current [lack of a] plan was a high school course it would be called A.P. Disappointment and the state legislators would all be enrolled. Suffice to say, they’d be sitting in the front row and they’d be acing the class getting straight A’s.

JUST TO LET YOU KNOW…. No one is arguing rocky terrain ahead, but does it have to be an Outward Bound mission? Being stuck on the side of the road lost and unsure what direction to take is frightening. We’re not looking for a medal in wilderness leadership; just a roadmap to reopening that’s cohesive and legible and we’ll gladly stick to it. When it comes to the safety and well-being of our children, I’d even bet the alpha men out there would swallow their pride, roll down the window, admit their lost and also ask for directions!

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3 responses to “I’m Pulling Over For Directions Because The Roadmap To Reopening Has Me Lost

  1. Well done, Rachel! You’re so good at this that I nominate you to put a plan in place!! You have all the questions and probably most of the solutions.

  2. UF opened dorms despite classes being on line, giving students and parents the burden. Now there’s an outbreak and kids are being sent to quarantine dorms and have to take care of themselves.

    NYU advised students if the attend in person they will still have to be on Zoom.

    FLORIDA and many other states go right to opening (phase 2), based on info to contrary. That’s like a 3rd base coach sending a runner from 3rd even with the catcher waiting with the ball to tag the runner out. STUPID… Just like full opening of schools

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