The 2020-2021 School Year: A Recap

School breezeways won't be empty for long. Right?? For the love — please let it be so.

Guys, it’s almost over. Maybe. Honestly who knows, but at the time I’m writing this (February 2021), we’re creeping back to normal-ish. It’s going slower than my brain buffering basic math, but it’s happening. Possibly. Or not.

The last time we got hopeful about flattening the curve, we entered a never-ending loop of “unprecedented times” a la “Groundhog Day,” minus Bill Murray and the quirky, romantic resolution. This whole thing has gone on longer than the line outside of Fuquay Guns and Gold, but now that North Carolina teachers have been moved to the front of the vaccination line, THERE IS HOPE of finally getting your kid out of the house.

Regardless of whether you’ve been protesting school closures or opting for virtual school year-round, I think we can all agree that teaching is hard and having kids in your house 24/7 is more painful than a 40-year-old man on TikTok.

Sure, virtual school has done wonders in preventing teen pregnancy (they don’t call it PLAN B for nothing), but it hasn’t been without its ups and downs. Now that the end is in sight, let’s reflect on the ’20-’21 school year. You aren’t ready? I don’t really care, it’s for posterity.

In the beginning, most of us were on board with a temporary, virtual school situation. The furthest we’d gone during the summer was the kiddie pool in the backyard, so the thought of sending our children to a large, germ-infested building, in the middle of a pandemic, on a full-time basis just didn’t feel right. With the support of many, Wake County decided on a virtual-only start to the year, and we marked the occasion with an onslaught of “back-to-school” photos featuring our kids awkwardly holding a computer in the living room. Good times.

Remember when we all had quaint, in-home workspaces and offices set up for remote learning? That was cute. The parents who opted for Plan B fi gured they only had to hold on for a month or two before they could safely deposit their bundles of joy on a school bus, bless their hearts.

The experience of virtual school was like being trapped in a WCPSS escape room; everyone was stuck together, with varying degrees of intelligence, and we were all desperately trying to figure a way out. THE CLOCK WAS TICKING.

This, children, is a school in its natural habitat. See how it waits patiently for its pupils to arrive.

As it turns out, it took longer than we expected. Like, a lot longer. I actually had to figure out how to access the “parent portal” on Powerschool, and I was really hoping it wouldn’t come to that. I was getting messages from the school on Remind, Talking Points, Google Classroom, Canvas, pieces of toast — you get the idea.

My email account was a disaster (it was before virtual school, but still). I was receiving countless “family” messages from WCPSS about COVID reports, food distribution, cohort information, health screenings, etc. Principals were trying their best to communicate via email, automated phone calls, texts, voice messages, smoke signals, ravens, astrological signs and more.

By the end of the first quarter, I had accidentally shown up in the background of my child’s Google meet at least a dozen times in varying stages of undress. Assignments were rolling in and I was putting my hope in God that my kids were getting it, because my school smarts tapped out in 4th grade.

But hey, relief was on the horizon! Plan B kids were going back to school by the end of Thanksgiving … except they didn’t. Thanksgiving set the COVID clock back a few months so November started to look a lot like January. It wasn’t until mid-February that middle and high school students in Wake County actually walked into a building to learn in “cohorts,” which is fancy WCPSS speak for “groups.” One week in, two weeks off. Tiny groups of kids staring at computers in the presence of a teacher teaching on a computer. Vigorous cleaning. Temperature checks. Athletics with more temperature checks and wrist bands. Football in the spring — can you imagine!? Lunchrooms so quiet students could hear themselves chew. School buses back on the road and filled to the brim carrying at least five to six kids.

As sad as this might have sounded to us back in 2019, this bizarre half in/half out reality is a step back in the direction of normal. Yes, our standards have fallen lower than the Target parking lot a few years back, but the sight of carpool lines gives us hope that the 2021/2022 school year might actually look a little, dare I say, normal.

Regardless of whether your kids have been at home year-round or back at school in little chunks, I think we can all agree that the teachers and staff have been nothing short of heroic over the past year. Seriously, they deserve all the monogrammed tumblers money can buy!

If I show up to a Zoom meeting dressed from the waist up, I consider that a win. Teachers, on the other hand, have been finessing this remote-learning thing since last summer. As the back-to-school debate raged on, they were busy relearning everything they knew about teaching, creating never-before-seen lesson plans, and struggling to motivate kids who were quite literally still in bed.

As schools reopened, they literally pulled a Chuck Norris and risked their lives in their commitment to educate our children. They should be walking on red carpets and kissing babies! The 2020-2021 school year needs to be recapped, not just for posterity, but also as a massive THANK YOU to educators everywhere.

Also, I’d like to use this opportunity to personally apologize to my kids’ teachers for the wildly inappropriate coffee mug I was holding in the background of my kid’s Google meet on the morning of October 20, 2020. That is all.

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