I was Listening to our home district’s board meeting the other night, I once again found my self feeling so many different emotions. The teacher in me listened to the parents speak out of frustration on how remote learning is just not working. It hurt knowing that no matter how hard teachers like me were working, these parents were mad. The parent in me was shouting, yes, I agree, open up the schools because children like Courtney need to be in person. Then the best news came when they talked about how the next phase of the plan changed some and preschool and some elementary grade students will start in person as early as mid October! That includes both Alyssa and Courtney! A load came off my shoulders as I thought to myself, “we can handle a few more weeks”.
Then came Tuesday. I truly feel like the world came crashing down on me. A couple weeks back we submitted a form to Courtney’s school that was filled out by Her pediatrician to medically excuse Courtney from wearing a mask. Now we didn’t expect her to be completely excused. We had this form filled out so she can still be in school when the time came while we continue to work on her wearing a mask. On Tuesday we had a meeting for what we thought was to put in Courtney’s IEP that she was excused from wearing a mask but what we were told was that they were denying her medical exemption.
What does that mean for her? Honestly, the assistant principal didn’t even know the answer that question. The only thing they could tell me was at this point the district is following the IDPH guidelines and the only ones who can be exempt are those who have medical contraindications meaning they can’t breathe with the mask on and can’t remove the mask on their own. So what did I “hear” when I was told this? My daughter isn’t going back in person for more than 2 hours a week (which is what she is currently doing) any time soon.
I get all sides of this “are schools safe” argument. I truly do. I’ve watched schools open successfully, I’ve seen schools already have some issues. I’ve watched preschool teachers transform their classrooms into rooms that don’t look like preschool anymore. I watched Courtney’s teacher dress up as a surgeon so she can teach Courtney for 2 hours! I know front line workers who say it’s not safe and I know front line workers who say open schools. I have close friends who have lost loved ones to the virus. I’ve had loved ones who have had the virus and doing fine. We’ve had scared within my little family of 4. I GET ALL SIDES!
But there is one thing that’s braking my heart to the point of emotional breakdowns a couple times a day. Everyone agrees the most vulnerable children need to be in person NOW. I am a teacher of those that are most vulnerable and I’m a mother of the most vulnerable and I’m seeing examples on both sides of the most vulnerable not able to go in because of their inability to tolerate a mask and that is hard to swallow. It is hard to just sit back and watch. That is wrong. I may be putting myself out there too much with this post but it is too close to my heart.
Courtney is lucky. She has 2 parents who are teachers. One of which has studied Autism. She had a kick ass nanny who is finding a way to make this all work and a team of teachers and therapists standing behind us. But even with all that support, Courtney is struggling. What about those who don’t have this support? Where does it leave them? This breaks my heart. So…when you say get the most vulnerable back. Make sure you don’t forget about ALL of the most vulnerable!