School is not the same.

I remember back in the spring when we were in remote learning; kids could not wait to get back to in-person learning. I am sure this is something that was on their minds all summer. Now that we are back in school, full time, they are not happy.

School is not the same and kids, as well as adults are struggling. Kids were looking forward to back to school, as if it was going to be what they left back in March. They were looking forward to seeing their friends, to the socialization, and the connections.

School now is a class of a few kids, the same kids, in one room all day except for lunch. For specials, they join one other class to make a Pod. They cannot wander the halls, they cannot sit with a group all together at lunch or recess, and they cannot be with their friends hanging out. They may not even see some of their friends during the day, depending on where their classroom is. They have to wear a mask all day; they have to be 6 feet apart at all times. They cannot wander around the classroom. They have to stay in the area of their desk. Snack is now at their desk after it has been sanitized. They have to get their temperature taken several times a day. They have to hand wash and/or sanitize each day. Lunch lines don’t exist, nor does the salad bar. Their lunch is prepackaged through the morning and delivered to their assigned spot at the table, that is sanitized after each lunch period. There are no footballs or frisbees at recess. Four square and basketball don’t happen. They have an assigned entry and exit point for the day. Mask breaks are better than recess! School is hard.

Kids are really struggling. They have meltdowns because what they used to like about school is gone, and I don’t think any of them were prepared for it. I don’t think most of the adults were prepared for it either. Walking through the school doors is a very different experience, and it’s not one that kids are enjoying. The guidelines are clear of the steps we have to take. Just know, school is not the same. Just this morning, a student said, “I can’t do masks anymore.” Well, that just isn’t an option at this time. Another student wrote to me that they aren’t sure how they will do the year like this. I feel for them. I am exhausted each day from it all, as are all students and educators alike.

All those wishing for students to go back to in-person learning for the students’ social-emotional supports realize they may need more external support still, for school is not the same.

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