A niece who teaches in public schools in Minneapolis/St. Paul has about a week to nail down how she will handle her 150 high school students remotely, with no classroom and no schedule. And, she asks, are they really all that interested in French anyway? Some have taken jobs to help support their families as their parents get laid off. Some look after younger siblings during the day. When can she connect with them live, and will they pay attention to their assignments?
Some students have been with her four years, and she is sad she may never see them again, now that in-person schooling has ended for the year, at least. She won’t get to say goodbye in person, give them a hug, encourage them on their way with a smile and her loving eyes. They won’t have a chance to stand up in front of the school and grab hold of that diploma to cheers from friends and family.
We surely will get over it, but still, chopping off all of these springtime rituals will have an effect, they count for something — an indelible memory of achievement, perhaps a little extra shove that helps some kids keep looking forward. I hope for their sake their communities find some way to acknowledge these rites of passage.
Meanwhile the term will resume in a few days. J is a fabulous teacher who loves the face-to-face interactions in the classroom. She’s not so great with new technology. How will she manage all these kids from afar? How will she schedule assignments and interactions when 150 kids are scattered and have such varying demands on their lives outside school? Many are immigrants, many of these Hmong, and they have extra challenges in language and culture. How will she know they’re listening? Can she Zoom it?
I know she’ll pull it off and worry restlessly about it the whole time.
Not enough masks: We all know that by now. Just thinking about a friend who’s a nurse practitioner at a private practice on the Monterey Peninsula. She gets one mask, an N95, normally intended for single use; now it’s one per provider. She’s down from seeing a dozen or more patients a day face-to-face to just a few, and the rest by phone and eventually video link. Her practice has set up an isolated area at one of their offices to evaluate all respiratory complaints needing further hands-on screening. (They’re not testing; that’s handled by the Community Hospital of Monterey in an isolation tent outside the ER.)
“I was fitted for [the mask] Thursday last. If any of you have ever had one – part of the fitting procedure is having a cone like mask over your head and moving around in different directions – could only think of The Cone Heads of SNL. Made me laugh. Trying to do a lot of laughing with colleagues. It helps. NOT ENOUGH MASKS.
“These are intended to be single use only. However, here one for each of us. Every 10 days an MD or NP/PA will rotate through the off-site respiratory triage area. We only each have one mask for the day and for each 10 days. This is the situation all over the country for now.”
She adds: “Hands: What manicure? So dry. Did I mention patients stealing hand sanitizer out of the exam room? So, just like you all – I am doing everything I can to protect myself, my patients and anyone else I may come in contact with.”
And: “This is an amazing time to be in practice as a health care provider/worker. This is an amazing time to be a human being. ‘Amazing’ can be interpreted in many ways. I expect to stay well.”