Above: Photo by Tom Wang/123RF.com.
BitDepth#1360 for June 27, 2022
During April and May, the sun was relentless, hitting schoolyards most brutally at their front doors during the afternoon harvest.
That intersection point, ordered in the morning, turned into a fierce buzz of activity as security officers tried to keep anxious, often impatient parents waiting while their children walked a few feet away.
This is always a messy space, particularly in an elementary school, where the population ranges from newcomer babies to soon-to-depart tweens, all of them dancing a ballet of school intrigue and social interaction.
It all started innocently enough for me, agreeing to reenact an old preschool ritual on the first day of pick up at primary school.
Just outside the door, I obediently dropped to one knee to receive the boost of the girl’s excitement about coming home.
But I miscalculated.
Instead of the bustle of a four-year-old cherub, I’m faced with the thunder of an 11-year-old pre-teen and from the moment of contact; I know everything is wrong.
My center of balance tilts wildly out of control and as we fall in a flurry of skirts and school bags, my only thought is to separate myself from the girl and ease her fall as I collapse into a too old for this. ish pile on the cracked pavement.
I barely notice my dignity rolling down the street like a cartoon hubcap.
“Are you okay?” asks a startled parent, apparently new to the hyperactive schoolboy craze.
I stand up, following the girl’s much more energetic recovery, and pretend to dust myself off as I pick up the scattered backpack and lunch kit, leaving behind the adult balance where it rests.
Tomorrow is, inexorably, another day.
Ten weeks have passed since that afternoon.
Waiting at those doors, the interaction of elementary school children under covid19 is instructive.
The sun blazes behind them as I wait, the deep evening yellow glowing incandescently white as it reflects off the asphalt behind the milling crowd of children, their frizzy hair after school lit by the sunlight like crowns of fire. .
It is here, in this schoolyard, that the battle against covid is being waged. Where the bronze mask and sanitizer shields seek to form a phalanx against the transmission of the virus.
The air vibrates with cries of recent liberation from the classroom, the bellows of parents trying to get the attention of children giddily flailing about in various states of unmasking.
There are faces with masks around their chins shouting with excitement. There are hugs.
Mine is a hugger and, despite my warnings, I count hugs, too long, as friends and non-friends who engage and part.
Can I just spray the kid with a disinfectant cloud on the way to the car without sounding paranoid?
I look at the teachers, completely exhausted after a full day of madness. I only glimpse the doors after the farewell.
Some walk quickly through the door, offering little waves and nods.
Others plod through the gates in cars with windows tightly closed, smiling faintly through tinted windows.
They have had enough. I have barely seen five minutes of his seven-hour day.
In the girl’s current class, two children have stayed home, one with a positive diagnosis and the other in preventive isolation.
The count is the same in his old teacher’s class. Two at home with positive diagnoses, and one found at school with a barbecue temperature.
The child ends up at home for five days, the cough and fever eventually turn into a cold, and the antigen test repeatedly returns negative.
During enforced downtime, he worries about a class nemesis who repeatedly coughed in his face, the weaponized disease.
The orderly entrance of students during bright, cool mornings, while teachers organize their students, is supported by the social maelstrom at the end of the day, the closing of all friendships professed and broken, offenses given and received, cultivated daily during recess and lunchtime. .
For at least fifteen months, parents and caregivers participated in the classroom, but that was engagement filtered through the keyhole of remote connections, the class gathered as crisp rectangles barely an inch wide.
With the collapse of physical distance, primary schools have become covid19 Thermopylae. A tiny force of teachers, leaning on the discipline instilled by parents and their institutional strength against a body of children armed with an intuitive knack for transmitting germs.
And let’s not forget what happened to the 300. Shields interlocked against the Persian force, they were flanked by a smaller force coming from an unexpected direction.
The masks slide in the schoolyard. Teachers are distracted by intrusive health restrictions that are layered on top of the existing challenges of densely packed classrooms and an education system designed on principles of brinkmanship.
For two months the battle has been joined and the covid, less lethal, continues relentless.
People keep dying of covid19.