We are back to school but are we back to normal?  |  Opinion

We are back to school but are we back to normal? | Opinion

Written by Elaine S. Wilko

This year, the only woe of going back to school in my house consisted of being constantly annoyed by you really because I tried to pressure my 12-year-old to finish her summer reading.

The only back-to-school crisis, which is actually the most severe woe, was COVID, which you also really contracted, while I was on vacation with my family, my boyfriend and two girlfriends of my daughter, all harmoniously coexisting in a one-floor oceanfront apartment in Wildwood.

After auditioning twice, I made sure to stay away and away from the middle school vacationers who really put into the universe how excited they are for school.

For this purpose, I hid and enjoyed the sunshine away from everyone with the best view COVID could offer by the sea: the beach.

We got home several days before school started, and hopefully, we’ve left any remaining fears of COVID-19 to go away as the tide rose.

With the clean bills of health, the increased excitement felt in our home, how would I say, “natural with caution.”

I was still urging my daughter to finish her book or agonizing over losing her phone. However, she was still worried about what to wear versus what she was reading.

This year’s back-to-school outfit will be nothing short of one of the key accessories that has ruled school students and teachers alike since 2020: the masks. Fashion police can now return to issuing summons for basic offenses such as wearing white clothes after Labor Day.

The school also reflected on this “cautiously normal” topic in its recent summer newsletter, Back to Normal.

The narrative read just the opposite as in previous COVID years.

Mandatory test for school staff? done, according to Governor Murphy’s order Issued on 15/8/22.

Contract tracking, tracking and reporting? He went. (However, parents will be notified if multiple students in the same class contract the virus.)

school activities? Personally.

Did you get COVID? Please stay at home for five days.

quarries? no.

Virtual learning for students with COVID? Deleted.

The children were free to move about their school and socialize less than six feet away.

This pales in comparison to what it was just a year ago when we were settling into our new school district unsure of the ways ahead in terms of starting middle school and whether the school would be full-day, half-day or co-ed. We will test all three depending on the variable du jour and the number of students and staff infected.

Last year’s weekly newsletter will always provide detailed accounts regarding the number of infected students/staff and quarantine, and the data has also been disaggregated according to each school. My daughter will eventually become a part of that stats and participate in virtual classes that are specifically designated for COVID students.

Cautiously resuming what is shaping up to be a normal school year, the district removed all virtual learning options as if distancing itself from the experiential experience that turned learning and home life upside down more than usual.

The alarm rang at six in the morning hard and my daughter set off on the first day of seventh grade. There were screams about the rain wreaking havoc on her hair but at least she decided to pick her wardrobe early. Our neighbor showed up at 6:30 in the morning. It was her first day at public school, and my daughter took her under her wing, and eventually under her umbrella as well.

Punctuality and willingness certainly fall into the category of cautious anomaly.

The door flew open around 2:40pm and my daughter showed us the craziness of the first day.

School was fine. She had three classes with our neighbor but had no friends over lunch (yet). The math was the most fun, courtesy of Jenga. The children were allowed to push their desks together to work as a team. (This got me thinking: What happened to all those glass dividers. Can they be recycled?)

We are now in our third week, which is so far as action-free as the first and second. COVID has saved my family, my daughter’s friends as well as my boyfriend. School is still in session full time and homework is finally scattered across my kitchen table.

This is a refreshing change from previous pandemic years when homework went the way of full-time in-person school. Complaining about too much work is music to my ears and I hope it continues with the other dirty drama expected from the 7th grade band.

On another casual note with caution, I have my first back-to-school night in person in years to get ready for and what in the world should I wear?

Elaine S. Wilko is a former journalist and freelance writer. She lives in Denville with her husband, daughter, and cat.

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