Coronavirus has wreaked havoc on all of us this year, but personally the weirdest is yet to come. Our return to school this September in a hybrid format will replicate the wacky hybrid school schedule we had during Z’s kindergarten year.
Parents in our school district who have made it through the kindergarten year are somewhat akin to war veterans. We have a certain look in our eyes. We’ve survived things. It’s made us tough.
Kindergarten alone is a big thing for parents, especially first-timers like we were. Sending your wee kiddo on an enormous school bus to an actual school for the first time is emotional and stressful! I remember following the bus to meet her at school that first morning, walking her to her classroom and then tearing myself away after seeing Z and her friends get started with their big first day. (Don’t judge: many of the first-time kindergarten moms did it!)
In our district, kindergarten is even more of a gauntlet. The Olentangy Schools kindergarten schedule alternates between two days a week and three days a week. Kids either go Monday, Thursday and every other Wednesday OR Tuesday, Friday and every other Wednesday.
As dual career parents, it was hectic but manageable. On daycare days, we took her to daycare in the morning; on kindergarten days, she caught the bus to school right from our driveway. I remember being so concerned that the alternating/hybrid school schedule would stress Z out, but she was totally cool with it.
Where it got more complicated for our family was on days where E was traveling and I had an early meeting, or vice versa. Then, we had to take Z to daycare in the morning and she would get shuttled from daycare to school in their little bus.
Of course, there was the daily afternoon scramble: do we pick her up at daycare (which technically didn’t have to happen until 6 pm) or is she coming home on the bus, in which case one of us has to be standing out there in the driveway at 3:45 pm?
We got pretty comfortable with our normal school days – in our case, Monday and Thursday. But Wednesdays were always a struggle. Every Wednesday, it was the same routine: is today a school day or a daycare day? What did we do last Wednesday? Which Wednesday is it today!?
I’m not going to lie, there were Wednesdays when we headed to daycare only to realize it was a kindergarten day. Though thankfully, we never put her on the school bus on an off day, which certainly could have happened! And I know that it does happen often.
Keeping your Wednesdays straight is job #1 for an Olentangy kindergarten parent. And, now we’re in that situation once again for the 2020-21 school year, thanks to Coronavirus and our wacky hybrid school schedule.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining. I actually argued and advocated for the creation of a hybrid school schedule this year. Intuitively, it just seems safer for everyone, in the current health environment, to have only half the students at school on a given day. It will be easier for students to keep a safe (6-foot, hopefully) social distance from their peers and teachers.
Sending Z to actual in-person school just nine days a month, and with half the student body, feels like a bearable risk. We will do home-based learning for the remaining school days, and I am looking forward to improving and building on the things we learned together during this past spring semester.
But oh joy, welcome back to wacky “where are we” Wednesdays! The difference is that she’s 10 now (and turning 11 this school year), so Z will be an active part of remembering which Wednesday it is.
And, with both E and I working from home and minimal travel happening, I’m confident there will always be someone here when she needs to hop on or off that school bus at the end of our driveway.
I suppose in some ways, there’s a poetic resonance to ending her elementary years with the same on again, off again hybrid school schedule she had when it all began. What a difference there is between kindergarten and 5th grade. Having this year’s schedule echo her first year of school will be bittersweet!
What educational format will your kiddos follow this school year – distance learning, a hybrid school model like ours or some other Corona-inspired educational program? Whichever it is, I know you’ve got this, moms and dads. And as always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below or over on Facebook.