School opening.

“Where are you?”, I asked my daughter when she answered the phone on Sunday morning.  “At school.”  “I’m at Caribou.  Can I stop by for a couple of minutes?”  “Sure, but I’m busy.”

I dropped by and rendezvoused for a very short visit.  And for sure she was busy.  I borrowed one of her Grandpa’s many mantras “do your best”, and departed.

Joni is Middle School Principal of a large suburban Middle School four miles from where I type.  It’s essentially a brand new school – this is to be its third year, I think – and it has all the ‘bells and whistles’ of today’s technology.

It also has the dilemma shared by every school anywhere in the U.S. today.  The lurking possibility of Covid-19.

So…the previous time I talked to Joni, today was to be the first day of school, welcoming anybody who could get a ride from parents or other – no bus service, I gathered.  Possibly half of the students might come.

Sunday: no school yet today, at least for Middle School.  These are all higher level policy decisions: state recommendations, school board, etc.  And of course, if parents don’t allow their kids to go to school in the midst of a pandemic, there’s not a truant officer in the world that will be sent out to drag them into an environment they don’t feel is safe.

There is one constant in all of this, however.  In the 1960s I was an eighth grade teacher; in 1953-54 I was an eighth grade.  The species called “eighth grader” in 2020 is still about 14 years old, albeit armed with more technology and the like.

While there have been advances of all sorts, the kids are still the kids, though more packed into larger and fancier building than my mother attended in her eighth grade country school about 1921-22.

Since the school is so close, I’ll probably take a drive down there today, no stopping in.  It’s raining here today, so it would be an especially difficult day to start anyway.

I’ll just take a drive around the local area – there’s elementary and high school nearby – just to see what the parking lots look like.  And report back at this space a little later.

If you know a teacher, give them some love…they, their administrators, their colleague staff, and yes, their administrators, are going to need it, this year more than ever.

Joni’s “place called school” – Oltman Middle School, Sep 3, 2020



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