I have already started checking off our back-to-school list. Markers, crayons, folders, and notebooks. Maybe a new lunchbox and backpack. Oh, don’t forget the hand sanitizer and masks!
This will be my daughter’s third year of elementary school. So far, she has yet to actually complete an entire year of in-person, August to May school. And as much I would like to hope and believe that second grade will be the magical year that she gets to see a full year inside the classroom, my hope is waning as I’m watching the COVID numbers continue to rise in Kansas City.
We are hearing more and more about the Delta variant and how children are more susceptible to this variant than the previous. That schools are not wanting to make masks mandatory for unvaccinated students and staff despite all elementary students not yet being eligible for the vaccine. As the case numbers continue to rise and I get news of more and more friends and family who are testing positive, my nerves and anxiety about this upcoming school year continue to grow.
When kindergarten year ended with a never-ending Spring Break, I was grateful that we were doing everything possible to keep our kids safe and welcomed the extra time at home with my little one.
Then first grade started virtually and moved back and forth from in-person to virtual and then back again as outbreaks happened, and we watched as individual classrooms were quarantined and I was again grateful for mask mandates, social distancing, and contact tracing that was keeping my daughter safe.
Now, here we are. Facing the start of another year of school impacted by COVID, and frankly, I’m just over it. I’m desperately missing the way things used to be and crossing all my fingers and wishing on every star that we might get back there before my daughter finishes elementary school.
It’s a struggle to keep my anxiety in check and not let my fear and worry be passed on to my daughter. I want her to experience all the things that make elementary school so much fun. Field trips, school-wide assemblies, field day, talent shows, and art fairs. I want her to have wonderful memories of playing on the playground with friends and sharing stories over the lunch table. I want to be able to visit her for lunch, and watch her sing in her class music show. I want to chaperone field trips and volunteer for the class parties.
We barely got to experience all of the wonderful fun of elementary school before COVID stole those memory-making moments. And for that, I will always be sad.
So here’s to another school year. A year that I will be hoping, praying, and crossing all my fingers that we get to complete in full. A year that I hope will be one year closer to getting back to normal – whatever that might be.