My little girl loves her bestie. They laugh at each other’s jokes. They surreptitiously check out each other’s latest L.O.L. dolls, the toys safely hidden in their backpacks. They scavenge the playground for treasures like bird feathers and interesting rocks.
But no hugs, high fives, or even a fist bump. No contact of any kind.
Welcome to in-person school in pandemic times.
I took a leap of faith last August. With skyrocketing local infection rates, I sent my little girl (and her 3 older sisters) back to school in person. Trusting her teachers would do what they could to mitigate the risk, and accepting the risk that my girls would bring COVID home.
Trust is an apt word to describe my relationship with their teachers. No parents have been allowed inside the school building for the entire year. My only contact with the teachers has been via email or ZOOM.
Inside the building, the kids have been kept in “bubbles” of 12. As in only interacting with the same 11 kids all day, every day. Face masks are non-negotiable. And lunches are eaten in absolute silence.
I’m thankful to my girls’ teachers. They have their own families, their own health concerns, their own measures of risk assessment. And yet still they showed up every day, adroitly navigating the learning needs of the in-person and online learners, making sure all students had a good school year.
It’s been a year of novel stresses. Dread at opening up COVID case notification emails. Waiting out quarantines. Lining up for testing.
And wondering can little girls make friends if their faces are obscured by masks and they sit 6 feet apart.
The answer to that question is yes.
When my little girl remembers this school year, I hope the memory that shines clearest is her friend.
What do you hope your kids will remember most from this school year?