COVID19 Work

Day 95: Follow Up – Guilt, School, Etc

June 18, 2020

Thank you for all of your comments yesterday — I guess the one thing we can all agree on is the general suckiness of all of this.

I think some very important points you all made are:

  • The GUILT/PANIC factor comes into play for some of us — including me — because the entire situation is different. From Maria: “I think I totally understand how you feel and have had similar feelings. It’s just… the balance is totally different now. Before, I would work while the kids were at their loving preschool, playing outside, learning, making friends. Good for everyone. In the fall, I may have a kindergartener who is home half the time maybe doing some zoom calls and worksheets? There is a logistical childcare question to figure out if that’s the case, but also, would I rather be the one to (take time off and) homeschool him those days? Try to make it a great year for our family instead of just making it through? I doubt that is what I’ll end up doing but having those thoughts for sure.”
  • BUT, I probably shouldn’t kid myself that online school for the kids – esp C – would be all the much better with me at the helm. From Marina: “I hope your and other districts go back to full time in school, but if not, then I would lower your expectations about what the year will be and try not to assume that you being home will suddenly make this situation better.” From LN: “Think of it this way, Sarah. You’re not a teacher (though you may have taken on some teaching/ educational tasks at work). Even if you were a teacher there’s no guarantee you would have the exact skillset to meet your children’s school needs. And that’s fine! It is SO unrealistic to expect that every parent is also the perfect teacher. Quitting your job to devote yourself full-time to their education wouldn’t magically turn you into a combination of Ms. Frizzle and Mr. Rogers.” HAHA. That would be a great combination though.
  • There ARE some things that might help that don’t involve, you know, throwing my entire career out the window. Even if I’m not the “breadwinner”, my job is important too — to me and others! (Also, just to clarify – I do not want to leave my job whatsoever in any permanent fashion. I was more fantasizing about a sabbatical of sorts which by the way is not a thing in healthcare (or most career tracks). It’s notable that I’m pretty sure if I left my current positions it would not be easy to get the same ones back, especially the leadership/GME roles I have. That said, I also don’t think I’d be un-hirable!)
  • Options that I will strongly consider, depending on circumstances: Option 1: sending G to her private Montessori school (if open for live sessions; was planning on doing that anyway 8-3 next year!). Option 2: Sending G to daycare if her school is NOT open (didn’t think of that, but it’s an option – so that our nanny could focus on the other 2). Option 3: Sending C to G’s school if it’s open. Option 4: Hiring a tutor (probably a college student) to basically come do online school with the big kids on the days that they are home so our nanny can focus on G.

All cost $ (but reasonable amounts; far less than my fantasy sabbatical!). All would be an improvement over this past spring.

Podcast rec: I really like how Happier has handled recent events, and this week’s episode was no exception with guest Sofy Solomon. ALSO I now have to add Deacon King Kong to my reading list. SO MANY BOOKS NOT ENOUGH TIME. Hence my new phone background:

new lock screen background


  • Reply chelseamcatmath June 18, 2020 at 7:05 am

    The school thing… it really breaks my heart that the best thing for public health (not having kids physically back in school) is in direct conflict with what’s best for the education of an entire generation, preschool – professional school. And that’s not even getting into the economic issues. *Anything* we do (send kids to school, try to have a “hybrid” model, keep kids home) will have serious negative consequences. That – to me – is what is so hard. We are just trying to pick the least bad option.

    I don’t know what we will do if there is no school. My oldest does not, will not take school instruction from DH or I. We joke that some kids pay $$$ each year to be taught by us, but he wants no part of it. He will 100% not learn as much at home as he would at school. And that may happen, and we just have to accept it.

    FWIW, based on what has come out from our school board (in Central FL), we will go back unless… I dunno… an active volcano opens up in the middle of the county.

    • Reply Gillian June 18, 2020 at 8:26 am

      Actually, it is not necessarily true that reopening schools would be a significant public health problem. There is growing evidence that kids aren’t efficient at spreading COVID-19. See this article from the Washington Post last month

      • Reply Natalie June 18, 2020 at 2:52 pm

        Agreed Gillian! There’s also the negative mental health impact on both kids and adults, the socialization skills lost, decreased ability for educators to monitor and report child abuse, loss of free lunches and a safe space for many children, not to mention educational gaps that may never be filled for many, all associated with school closures. These are real public health risks outside of COVID-19. With most children (thankfully) not getting very sick from COVID, it would make sense theoretically that their viral load is lower, and thus they are not spreading the disease as much.

        My 9 year old is going to camp this summer (we are in Massachusetts where cases are declining, but COVID remains a risk). I’m continuing to work in a hospital environment every couple of days (MD/MPH), and my 72 year old dad is my personal hero: a internist who continues to see patients every day. We are learning to live with this virus–taking some precautions but not shutting ourselves in. I do not want my daughter to live in fear!

  • Reply Katie June 18, 2020 at 8:15 am

    I don’t have kids or any strong views on how they should be educated, so I’ll stay out of that, but Sarah!! That phone background!!! I can’t think of anything more depressing to look at every day, it feels like a count down to being dead. I would need a less morbid reminder 😂😂😂

  • Reply gwinne June 18, 2020 at 8:16 am

    The tutor idea is interesting and one I hadn’t really considered. That might be workable for me, too, if the kids are online or hybrid. something to think about. I’ve committed to teaching online myself in the fall, which I have very mixed feelings about but feel that it’s the best of the bad options, at least from a health standpoint.

  • Reply Jordan June 18, 2020 at 8:30 am

    I’ve been having all the same frustrations as you and stressing about my kids…and then yesterday I found out that my grandpa has Covid. He was in the hospital for something else and in poor health so they think he contracted it there. It has been a punch to the gut and thinking of him all alone, dying in the hospital is devastating. Before this I didn’t know anyone personally who had the virus and it was easy to make my risk calculations. Everything has gone out the window now.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 18, 2020 at 9:47 am

      I’m so sorry, Jordan. I really hope he can recover quickly.

      You’re right, it sends me down a whole new line of uncertainly. Thank you for sharing.

      • Reply Jordan June 18, 2020 at 5:13 pm

        Thanks Sarah – appreciate the kind words. Just so much uncertainty and sadness – and I find that I’m frustrated at the people who are going out to dinner/acting like everything is normal again, yet that was me just two days ago! So crazy.

  • Reply Jessica June 18, 2020 at 8:40 am

    If you hire a tutor, I would pull C out of school and just homeschool him. I don’t think online school is age appropriate. The tutor could work through a books and pencil/paper curriculum. Just my thoughts! In the spring, my 5th and 7th grade kids did online school and it was fine. I pulled my 1st and 3rd grade kids out because I didn’t think it was age appropriate. I just had them read fiction and non fiction each day, write something, do a math workbook, practice keyboarding, listen to books on audible, and watch educational shows/documentaries. It was much less stressful.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns June 18, 2020 at 9:06 am

    I hope you get some clarity about what will happen in the fall. This is all really, really hard and my heart especially goes out to parents whose incomes don’t allow for things like tutors or extra childcare for their school-aged kids, etc. I think most of your readers probably don’t have an issue from a financial perspective but I know there are large parts of the population who struggle under normal conditions… It’s just really heart breaking. And how far are our kids going to be set back by not being in school for potentially another part of a year, after missing 1/3 this past year? Gosh it’s tough and I don’t envy the people who are making the decisions because no matter what they decide, someone will be upset and VERY VOCAL about being upset.

    Having a toddler at home (and a baby on the way) has it’s challenges although we are lucky that our daycare is open and has been the whole time (although we opted to keep him home for 7 weeks when the outbreak first started in March). We are years away from sending our son to school so by then, we should have a vaccine (we better!!). So I guess I need to remind myself that we have it good right now (although having a baby in December when we could be in a 2nd or 3rd wave isn’t great and I also have to worry about potentially getting COVID and passing it onto the baby – they still don’t know much about pregnancy and COVID).

    I’m glad you have a level-headed group of readers who leave thoughts, empathetic comments. I don’t envy the position people are in…

  • Reply Natalie June 18, 2020 at 10:31 am

    SickKids in Toronto released recommendations for school reopening in advance of the government in Ontario making decisions. It made me feel much better about the possibility of “normal” school in September. I also liked the idea of a hospital weighing in with a consideration of all health impacts (risks for coronavirus, mental health impacts of staggering, issues with mask wearing).

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 18, 2020 at 10:53 am

      After reading that … I just want to move to Canada.

      • Reply Joey June 18, 2020 at 4:00 pm

        We’d love to have you here in Canada 🇨🇦 💕

    • Reply Jen June 18, 2020 at 2:25 pm

      I found this really helpful, too, and cut some of the noise bouncing around in the news. Plus the helpful links to actual data and other areas that have been doing studies.

      • Reply Irene June 18, 2020 at 9:03 pm

        My comment below is way too long by but I like that this document actually considered what kids are actually going to do (e.g taking off masks and playing with them) instead of just trying to enforce what seems to work for adults. It has not been my experience that any one here is thinking like that; I am hoping they leave school guidelines open enough that teachers can deal with the realities of what this actually looks like.

  • Reply Kristi June 18, 2020 at 10:49 am

    Thank you for sharing these different perspectives and options. Many of us are in the same boat just trying to control what we can without knowing what is going to happen. I also want to echo the point above, as I shared with my friends on a text chain, all saying we are going to hire a teacher, send our kids to a private school that may still be open, etc. For so many, that is not an option. We are fortunate to be able to throw money at the problem, but so many aren’t. This will be a huge concern- the impact on many kids, families and communities across the country.

  • Reply Irene June 18, 2020 at 8:54 pm

    I really enjoy reading everyone’s comments on this. I think I’ve commented before that I’m also very nervous that depending on how crazy the schools go trying to keep kids apart from each other – the social emotional benefits may end up being reduced for my kids at least. We got a letter from our daycare about their plans for reopening and they plan to “try” to get kids 3& up to wear masks most of the day. All the other precautions sound well intentioned but just a Little scary for the kids. dropping off outside the building with a temperature check, then being handed to a floater to bring them to their classroom, which they haven’t seen in more than 3 months. And every adult will be wearing a mask at all times. I keep being surprised more parents aren’t concerned about how their kids are going to handle this. I guess the kids will adapt but then in August they have to transition up to the next class room with new teachers (who’s faces they will never have seen without a mask). I’m probably sensitive to this because my daughter struggled with the transition for WEEKS at this age (2) even under regular circumstances; I know so other kids did not have that experience. I really appreciate the effort to open and be safe but I don’t think my kids are old enough or laid back enough for this to be “fine” for them. It just makes me wonder what they are going to to do in the fall – put kids in chalk circles to keep them apart? I am planning to hold off until the fall so my son goes straight into his new classroom if we can possibly manage it. We are trying to hire a babysitter in the meantime.

    Anyway I think the balance really is different for all of us compared to pre pandemic but I also think it’s affecting people differently. My friend just sent her kids off to camp and said it was the happiest they have been. I can’t bring myself to try both because of the risk exposure and because I don’t think *my kids* would do well with the extra precautions. God I hope they announce what the fall is going to look like soon so I can stop wondering…

  • Reply Annie June 23, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    Please share where you found that screen saver. So simple yet such a profound reminder! I googled it but couldn’t come up with anything.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger June 23, 2020 at 7:07 pm

      I just made it in Instagram stories and took a screenshot 🙂

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