7 Quick Takes: Back to School with COVID-19 Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

First thing: COVID-19 is real. It is very much still a pandemic, and it is spiking everywhere including my county where July has been the worst month on record. There are also, apparently, six “types” of COVID, which explains why some people have a milder case than others.

You can deny all of this as much as you want, but doing so involves ignoring science and sticking your head in the sand. You also come off looking like an utter fool.

Neil Degrasse Tyson on science.

— 2 —

Second thing: SHAME ON ALL OF YOU WHO ARE MAKING CATTY COMMENTS ABOUT TEACHERS BEING LAZY BECAUSE SCHOOL DISTRICTS ARE OVERWHELMINGLY CHOOSING TO START BACK WITH DISTANCE LEARNING IN THE FALL!!! None of the teachers I know are happy that it’s what is having to be done, and all of them miss their kids fiercely. These are already people who are being asked to teach a variety of kids while not being given the resources to do it adequately in addition to being asked to act as human shields in the event of a school shooting. None of them are paid nearly enough to also be put at risk of dying a miserable death from a virus we are still figuring out how to control. (The “novel” in “novel coronavirus” means that is is “new” and that we still know too little about it to control it well.)

— 3 —

I have known since around Memorial Day that it was a very slim chance of Daniel returning to in-person education this fall because of my family’s COVID-19 risk factor. My parents are elderly, my mom is being hit with some health challenges at the moment, and both Daniel and I have some pretty scary underlying health issues that put us at severe risk of complications if we were to contract the virus. My parents and I discussed it at length and tried coming up with some contingency plans in the event that Daniel did return to school with other kids, and there was no good solution. I have prepped everything this summer in what I call the “Schroedinger’s cat model” which was that Daniel was either going to be there in person or he was not going to be there in person, but we were going to plan for both eventualities to exist.

— 4 —

The local school district is offering some in-person options for kids who need it for reasons, but it will be remote learning for almost everybody this fall. What will that look like for Daniel? Hard to say. I will be contacting his new teacher either tomorrow or next week to see if we can have an IEP meeting via Zoom to talk about this. In fact, I predict a lot of IEP Zoom meetings will be happening in the district over this next month as teachers try to figure out how to adapt each student’s IEP goals to the remote education model.

— 5 —

The college where I work just had an all-college meeting today, and I was invited to attend as a staff member. The gist of it is that almost everything will be online for the third quarter in a row. There will probably be some students wetting their pants because they skipped Spring Quarter in hopes that the world would be normal by fall.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha… NO.

— 6 —

What does this mean for me? Well, I’ll have to explain to one of my students who is Internet-phobic that they will not see my beautiful face in person for the foreseeable future… and they will not be happy. (If I’m lucky, they won’t drunk-dial me again for reassurance, and I won’t have to have my kinda-sorta new boss put the fear of Jesus in them. Not that this happened during Spring Break…) My current boss will possibly have more one-on-one hours to give me than I can legally accept, and I might get lent out to the entire campus again or (God willing) embedded with my favorite instructor to teach people how to love Accounting.

— 7 —

The only thing I can predict about this fall is that things will probably stay unpredictable. Woo.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: No Politics Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

4th of July. It was a quiet 4th of July here in terms of family activity. My dad grilled hotdogs, and I got to see quite a few fireworks shows from my bedroom window… because various people on my cross-street and some of the other cul-de-sacs spent HUNDREDS of dollars on fireworks which they set off for probably 3 straight hours from 9:00 p.m. to midnight. Our poor cats were curled up in my mom’s closet because it sounded like we were being shelled. (My town does allow fireworks between certain hours on the 4th of July, but a lot of other towns don’t.)

— 2 —

Back to Work. Summer Quarter started this week, and I’m getting to tutor for the first time ever during the summer because everything is online. I’ve met with all of my students at least once now, and the first-week stuff that always comes up is getting ironed out.

For those who are wondering, we aren’t going to know if we’ll be back on-campus for Fall Quarter until August. I’d prefer to stay online because the COVID risk is still high here, and my family is still locked down really tightly, so I wouldn’t be able to work on campus. I also know that our college president is risk-averse, so I can’t see him putting the student body in danger.

— 3 —

What leadership looks like. We have a new superintendent here in town and this was what his second day on the job looked like.

I think he’ll be great for the district if taking food, school work, and masks to migrant students is what he does on the second day he is in charge.

— 4 —

Bujo Instagram account. I have a new Instagram account for my bullet journal (bujo). I haven’t done a huge amount with it yet, but will try putting my spreads up before I fill them out. (I can’t show the filled-out ones because a few of them have student names in them, and I’m trying to keep everything FERPA-compliant.)

— 5 —

John Rutter. If you know the music of John Rutter (English choral composer) at all, you’ll appreciate this parody of his work called “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Rutter” by Pitchcraft. The best part: THEY’RE SINGING IT TO JOHN RUTTER!!!!!!!!!!!! (He loves it.)

— 6 —

/glares at Minion. I just went to go grab a couple of cartons of formula to feed the kid and prep tomorrow’s morning feed because doing it in the morning when I’m tired makes me want to cry. I get in the guest room (where we keep all the fun stuff) and notice a couple of cartons that had been on top of the boxes were on the floor. I picked them up and found them to be empty… WITH FANG MARKS IN THEM. My cat child had bitten them and they had leaked on the carpet.

I was not happy. Meanwhile, Mr. Black Paws is sprawled on the guest bed letting me know that he is magnificent and soft and cute. I told him that he is none of those things and is instead a VERY BAD CAT. (He is not sorry.)

— 7 —

Recommendation. If you are a bullet journal junkie, go check out Planning with Kay. She is delightful, features her house panther in her YouTube videos, and the community during her livestreams is amazing.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Making the Best of a Hard Situation Edition

7 Quick Takes

Word in Washington is that our stay-at-home order is being extended, and we will find out how much longer tomorrow. (It was supposed to end on May 4th, but we’re not nearly ready to reopen the state according to Governor Inslee and the doctors, scientists, and public health people he is trusting to advise him.) It’s not great, but this was about saving lives, not my own personal happiness and convenience.

I didn’t know how I was going to deal with being home with my crankypants child for six weeks while trying to work… and it has worked out. Here are some things I’ve learned.

— 1 —

I’ve learned that teachers deserve to be paid two to three times what they earn. I mean, I had mad respect for Daniel’s teachers before as well as my teacher friends who are severely underpaid. Then, I watched the reaction of teachers in the room at Daniel’s IEP meeting when the announcement came down that schools were closed for six weeks. I then watched Daniel’s teacher work her tail off to find class management software to fit each one of her kids when it was announced that schools would be closed for the rest of the year. When my kiddo had a problem dealing with learning over Zoom (because autism = routines and places MUST remain constant), his teacher just hung out and played tablet games with him until he was used to it. She puts together a YouTube video for her kiddos to watch on school mornings so they can do calendar time and News 2 You together. I’ve seen teachers at other schools post “We Miss You” signs in the windows for kids to see when they come to pick up food for the day or go for walks, and the bilingual immersion program teachers got together to make a massive collage of them spelling out a message of love to their students in English and Spanish. Others have masked up and gone to visit students in their homes to troubleshoot laptop issues.

I am definitely making a contribution to his current teacher’s classroom next year, even though Daniel will be at a different school. She loves her kids like her own, and I’ve seen others in the district here who are the same way.

— 2 —

I’ve learned how to find the last commercially-available cleaning wipes. Granted, I did see the writing on the wall and grab a good supply from Amazon before everything disappeared from grocery stores, but I’ve also managed to find them on big box store websites as recently as LAST WEEK. (I swear… I got the last canisters available for shipment from Target before even their generic ones started being routed only to hospitals.) It has become a game for me.

— 3 —

I’ve learned how to facilitate worship on Facebook Live and Zoom. Since it will likely be a while before my church is back worshipping together and my governor isn’t exempting churches from the stay-at-home order, it’s good that I can at least use my gifts and talents to serve my congregation. We’ve gotten better at getting everything together with a few hiccups here and there (because keeping people muted appropriately can be like herding cats at times), but we’re making it work.

A benefit of having worship online is that we are making it accessible for shut-ins. Even when we can all come back to worshipping in person, we at least have a way to also put it online that we didn’t have before. I have some amazing people working with me on this, and I definitely know this will be a good thing for me as I have been that shut-in person several times in the past.

— 4 —

I’ve learned ways to get my needs met. Want food from your favorite local restaurant? Look online to see if they are registered with a delivery service. (We have a really good local one called Munchie Dude.) Need a cloth mask? Put out a Facebook message letting people know your need and maybe someone you know is making them for income or will make one for free. (I just went to Etsy so that my church ladies could focus on making them for nursing home. When I found out about a parishioner selling them, I put out the word that she makes them.) Have a Starbucks addiction? See if there’s a local drive-thru one. (Yes, I have an addiction. Shut up!)

— 5 —

I’ve learned how to survive being stuck around people. My parents and I are all introverts, but my dad and I like to leave the house on occasion. Because we’re all high-risk, trips are limited to grocery shopping (once a week per person), Starbucks (an essential service-shut up!), medical needs (a.k.a. physical therapy when Zoom doesn’t cut it and the possible emergency dental one for me tomorrow), and stuff that can’t be ordered online. We generally just head to our rooms when we start getting peopled out (which works unless Daniel is feeling needy), and both Mom and Dad go for walks or work in the yard. (I’m sadly allergic to “outside” at the moment. Allergies during a pandemic suck.)

— 6 —

We’ve started eating as a family again. During olden times (a.k.a. before the pandemic), we ate together only on special occasions because we all have our own schedules and needs. These days, Mom or Dad make a “company” dish and we’ll have dinner at the table. I still eat different food from them frequently even though Lent is over and I can eat meat again (part of my diet is for health reasons), but I’ll bring whatever I’m eating to the table and we’ll still eat as a family. Daniel is even coming downstairs to be near us on occasion.

— 7 —

I’ve learned that I can do anything for six weeks. Life will not be “normal” again ever because we are in a new place due to coronavirus, but we’ll all (as in, all of humanity) adjust to a new “normal”. Yes, it’s going to be inconvenient for the people who benefitted from the less good parts of the old “normal”, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. We have an opportunity to create a better situation, and I’m all in.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: Good Things In the Midst of COVID-19 Edition

7 Quick Takes

Here in Washington, we are under a shelter-in-place order until Holy Week, and it will likely get extended until the COVID-19 situation is resolved. (45’s plan to reopen things for Easter isn’t going to happen in these parts. Even if things did, I’m not resuming a normal life until *ACTUAL* epidemiologists recommend it, not a failed businessman and reality star.) I was already under a more restrictive shelter-in-place than existed before the one in Washington went into effect, so this was nothing new. Since I could probably enumerate the ways this situation stinks, I thought I would turn that on its head and talk about some *GOOD* things that are coming of this.

— 1 —

I’m developing an entirely new skill set. I had used Zoom twice before March 11th when I had to suddenly become a power user for work. I had never done a live post on Facebook until March 15th. I am now teaching people how to use both, and I am contributing to putting my church’s worship service online from home. (I had to make the decision not to be there in person to record last Saturday, and I’m not ashamed to admit that it was a struggle to make the decision and I cried my eyes out because it was *ONE MORE* life-giving thing being taken away from me.)

This Sunday, I get to be the “cyber verger” and do all the cueing, embedding, and unmuting when we do worship over Zoom.

— 2 —

I’m rediscovering the beauty of Compline. Our bishop has requested that we not hold corporate worship through Easter (and we are complying because a.) we listen to the bishop, and b.) the shelter-in-place order from Governor Inslee prohibits it), so I asked my priest if I could do Compline on the church Facebook page as a way of creating community and praying together even though we’re physically scattered. He enthusiastically gave me his blessing, so I have been doing it on weeknights at 8:30 p.m. It is my favorite of the Daily Offices in the Book of Common Prayer, so it is been fun to get to do it. I accidentally recorded it on my Facebook wall on Tuesday night, which might not have been a bad thing because one of my college friends from Intervarsity joined me. 🙂

— 3 —

I am getting a lot of reading done. While I do read a lot, it tends to be online things. Being “bored” has meant that I spend a chunk of my day reading on my bed with Minion on the panther trap I have for him. (It’s a quilt that he tends to appropriate from me.) I just finished Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (finally!!!), and I plan to start another book tonight.

— 4 —

I’m having dinner with my parents more often. We don’t eat together as a family often because my parents and I are usually doing our own thing at night, and Daniel obviously is fed by pump. (We still encourage him to join us at the table for some milk or Cheerios.) We have managed to eat dinner together twice this week, which is nice. Dad was making hamburgers for him and my mom on Sunday, so I joined them with a “tuna burger” as my mom put it. (I am pesco-vegetarian for Lent and Dad has been keeping up a steady supply of tuna for me.) Last night, I made lasagna (because I wanted lasagna, darn it!) and they joined me for that. (I currently have 7 servings of lasagna frozen for me in the chest freezer in the garage so that I can vary my diet a bit.)

— 5 —

I’m blessed with an amazing resource in Daniel’s teacher. Daniel’s teacher is researching every possible classroom management program out there so that all of her kiddos have at least one that works well for them. We are going to be using one called ClassDojo for Daniel as well as Google Classroom because that is what the school district wants to use. I am really thankful that she is so dedicated to her students!

— 6 —

I am not having to hang out in waiting rooms and exam rooms with Daniel. Daniel’s specialists through Seattle Children’s and our pediatrician up here have been willing to do phone appointments so that we don’t have to go there. It isn’t that bad of a trek to Everett where Daniel would have had a G-I appointment last Friday, but it still meant that I did not have to be up at 6 to leave by 7 for Daniel’s x-ray and 8:00 appointment.

— 7 —

I am appreciating Max Lucado’s “Coronavirus Check-in” videos. Max Lucado is one of the few evangelicals that doesn’t make me want to stab things. His books are lovely, and he has been putting out videos almost every day on his YouTube channel and on Facebook where he is checking in, giving a short pep talk, praying for people, and inviting people to submit their prayer requests so that others can pray for them. It’s totally not something normally on my radar, but I came across this video on Facebook and have been sharing it all over the place:

People were ripping Max apart in the comments, but it is a beautiful video because it is so true. God can deal with our frustrations, and Max encourages us to have a meltdown if we need it… but to not stay there and to come back to a place of praise, using parts of the third chapter of Lamentations as an example.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

COVID-19, You Suck

I had just sat down at Daniel’s IEP meeting when Governor Inslee announced that all K-12 schools in Washington would be closing for the next six or more weeks, effective March 17th. The teachers and specialists present were feeling sick over it because they love their kids something fierce. They’re feeling sick over it because parents like me are being put in really difficult positions where our jobs could be on the line because being stay-at-home parents and homeschooling our kids is not a luxury we have. (I’m a single mom. I *HAVE* to work. I’m waiting to find out if I can work with students remotely until Daniel can go back to school.) They’re feeling sick over it because they know the kids are going to have a hell of a time dealing with school, the one place some of them feel joy, is being taken away from them.

I honestly feel myself like everything that brings me joy is being systematically taken away. My church is functionally shut down for the next two weeks at least. (I’ll be there Sunday only because I’m part of the effort to live stream worship, but there are only going to be 5 of us present and we’re basically going to record stuff and then vacate the premises.) Daniel’s teacher, aides, and specialists are part of my support network with him, and now I’m losing them for six weeks. My degree program, which transitioned into a job for me, was 75% of what got me through my divorce, and now I’m uncertain about how much of a job I’m going to have come April 5th.

I’m honestly pretty angry with the world right now, and it seems like Satan is rubbing salt in my wounds by throwing tone-deaf remarks from homeschooling parents in my path about how interesting it is that everyone is going to be homeschooling now, how we’ll never stop once we start, how we withdraw our kids from their public schools, and/or how we give notice that we’re going to homeschool them. They all seem to be from the people who are the absolute last people I would seek out for advice on the subject, especially because they managed to raise some screwed-up, sociopathic, and/or barely literate kids. All the people I would seek out for advice have been classy enough to trust that I’ll seek them out if/when I need their help. (I have a large number of behaviorists and special education teachers in my friend group.)

Comments are disabled on this post because this is me venting my spleen and none of this is up for discussion.

Redemption

Yesterday (March 1) was the 9th anniversary of this. Yeah, this also happened, but it was the worst day of my life and it has only been in the last two years that I have been able to talk about it without sobbing.

Yesterday was also the 5th anniversary of me being confirmed in the Episcopal Church. A day that was wrenching 4 years earlier is now also a day when I get to celebrate my decision to affirm my faith.

It never ceases to amaze me how God continually redeems the worst days of our lives…