We Were Supposed to Start School Today


Today was supposed to be our first day of school.  

If you had asked me back in March when schools closed if we’d still be dealing with this virus, I would have laughed. I thought there was no way that we wouldn’t return to school as normal come late July. Sure, I knew there might be some new safety measures in place when school started back up. But never would have imagined we’d be here.  

And yet, here we are.  

We were supposed to start school today. Today should have been filled with eager kids coming through our doors with brand new backpacks full of school supplies, fresh haircuts, and the excitement of seeing friends they hadn’t seen in months.  Today should have been a full schedule of icebreakers and “getting to know you” activities, passing out textbooks, opening lockers, and laying the foundation for great relationships with this year’s students. But instead, I spent the day separating my desks apart, rearranging furniture as best I can in an attempt to “social distance” my classroom and thinking of new ways to meet COVID guidelines. Instead, I looked around the room and tried to brainstorm innovative ways to deliver information to kids without having them work with a partner, use any of my classroom supplies, or completing a worksheet as part of a lesson. I printed off name tags for half of my students and placed them at least one desk away from another student. (Our district just announced that we’d be using a hybrid model with half of my students coming 2 days a week and the other half coming on opposite days with everyone learning virtually on Wednesdays). I was strategic with my seating chart to make sure kids were all facing the same direction and were at least six feet away from the front of my board. So much for my flexible seating of comfy couches, cozy armchairs, and bean bags.  

This is supposed to be the most exciting part of a school year and yet, everyone around me is stressed beyond belief. Parents trying to decide what learning option is best for their kids, teachers trying to figure out what to do with their own kids who have to learn remotely while they are teaching, and students wondering what in the world the upcoming school year is really going to be like. It’s all a big question mark and no one has any answers.  

As a teacher, I have accepted the fact that this year, I will have to completely relearn how to do my job. One of my teacher friends made the analogy that we are all brand new teachers this year, regardless of our years of experience. This pandemic has completely changed the way schools will be operating and what we have known as “normal” for years is no longer. Teachers are planners by nature, but amid this pandemic, we have had to adapt and change the way we do things. We have to be ready for change at a moment’s notice because as our administration told us, things are extremely fluid in the world of education right now.  

And when I finally stop to think about the impact this is going to have on our kids and their parents, my heart breaks. My heart is broken for the kindergartners who should be starting their first school experience this year, but not like this. My heart is broken for the seniors in high school, who have waited 11 years and worked extremely hard to reach their goals, only to be greeted by an educational experience that almost mirrors a laid back prison setting. My heart is broken for the first-year teachers who have waited a long time to set up their first classroom and meet their first group of students, only to be told they will be teaching through a computer screen until further notice. There are so many pieces of the puzzle that are affected by how schools operate and regardless of how positive we attempt to be, this school year is going to be a total bummer.