Today was our first day of kindergarten. In a normal school year, we hold a two-week kindergarten in April. This year in April, the twelve children who were eagerly counting days until they could go to school were sadly disappointed. We made tentative plans to hold kindergarten sometime during the summer. This week it happened. Today we went to school. We were the only class in the building, but we practiced walking in the halls, raising our hands, and writing our names. It felt good.
It was good to be back. Back to the job I enjoy. Back to teaching real students and not sitting on the sideline running after a few stray balls while busy moms do the job I am supposed to be doing. I didn’t realize how good it would feel.
I am enough of a pragmatist to not grieve over the lost opportunities of the last quarter of the past school year, but the feeling of guilt never quite went away. No matter that there was little I could do to change the course of the year, it still haunted me that I wasn’t quite doing my job. I enjoyed staying in bed a little longer in the mornings but knew there were moms who were getting up extra early to have time to fit school lessons into their day. I enjoyed the freedom to pursue other interests but knew there were students losing out on schoolwork because their mothers didn’t have the time, resources, and experience that I had in the classroom. (I knew because the mothers told me so.)
Spring is always an intensely busy time in my life. School activities and life outside of school combine to form a wearying race in a normal year. This year I enjoyed a relaxed pace since the events of the school year were cancelled. I was available to take on extra duties at home. This was a blessing. I should be grateful to God for giving me this respite, not feel guilty because I was blessed with more time while others had less. Still, it haunted me.
And now it is summer. We are still trying to end one year while getting ready to start a new one. The books are finished. They’ve been returned to the school. The report cards are done but still in my desk, waiting to be given out. Slowly we’ve been pulling the last bits of the year together. A graduation happened last week. The school newspaper and annual are being printed. One evening soon we hope to finally have an end-of-term picnic, hand out the last of the awards, certificates, and report cards, and at last put an end to the 2019-2020 term. But we’ve also got the school books for next term piled in the library waiting to be unpacked. Teachers are working on walls, record books, and material for next term. New supply lists are going out. The 2020-2021 term is quickly approaching.
Into this mixed up school summer scene is also added the uncertainty of what school will look like next year. Can we all go every day? Do we have to sit six feet apart? Will we need to wear masks, take temperatures? What about recesses and lunch? What if someone’s sick? There are still a lot of unanswered questions. Ideas and requirements change often.
No matter what form school takes in the next months, one thing is unquestioned. When we can go, it will be good to be back.
CONTRIBUTOR: Carolyn Martin