Well, this sucks

I gotta say, I know a lot of places have been harder-hit than us, and I know good and well we’re far from the first area to have to do this, but … Christ, is that a jarring fucking headline to see on your hometown newspaper’s website.

My district just announced that we’re going back to all virtual instruction starting after school next Tuesday. Which is good; we shouldn’t have been back in the first place. We started off the year with the district telling us “data, not dates,” and keeping us out until a week before the end of the first quarter, which … maybe some attention to dates might have been good, as there’s no real reason to come back right before a quarter ends. It was made clear to us that we’d be following the county’s recommendations for our metrics and for when we’d be closing.

Then shit got a lot worse, and they brought us back, which makes perfect sense, ignoring the county-level data in favor of quietly moving to state metrics. I can tell you everything you need to know about our state numbers by pointing out that nothing has changed on our alert level since school restarted despite the fact that we have something like ten times as many daily infections now than we did then. If that can happen without your alert level changing, your metrics are (deliberately) garbage.

All of our neighboring districts have announced in the last few days that they were going virtual. The word from our district– this is a direct quote– was that school closings would be “reactive, not preventative”– in other words, we’d be closing if we got lots of cases or lots of absences due to quarantines in schools, but only individual schools affected by those cases or absences. We would only close because of people being sick, not to prevent people becoming sick. Then they announced two schools would close. Neither of the two schools appeared to be worse than any others on their covid dashboard; indeed, one of them wasn’t even on there.

(The reliability of our district Covid dashboard is, to put it mildly, in dispute.)

Meanwhile, my school has averaged 10 teachers out a day in the last couple of weeks. I don’t know what they think is going on if a quarter of the teachers being out isn’t enough. My kids have been doubled and tripled up in classrooms, which eliminates any benefit of cutting the number of kids in the building.

And today, they abandoned that policy– granted, it was dumb, but still– and sent us all home. In the hour and a half since announcing we were going back to virtual they have already announced that the day we were going back was wrong and changed it– I had to rewrite a paragraph of this because we got new information. Right now they’re still in school Monday and Tuesday and then out indefinitely after that; Wednesday was going to be the first day of Thanksgiving break anyway.

I suspect I will see virtually none of my kids on Monday and Tuesday. I am seriously considering not bothering to assign anything.

God, I’m glad it’s Friday.

In which hybrid is homogeneous

My students have very clearly figured out that having to wear a mask for eight hours while attending classes in rooms that do not contain their teachers– because we are either at home because we put in paperwork to be or because we are currently in quarantine– is not actually any better than just being at home. I never had big numbers of kids in any given class since we made the switch to hybrid– subtracting out about a third from any given group for kids that are staying at home then divide them again by their last names means that about 10 was as big as any group was going to get, and the vagaries of statistics meant that I had a couple groups as small as three or four. A few weeks later, my biggest group today was four kids, both my partner teacher and my co-teacher are out because they’re close contacts for COVID– one of them has been sick, and is being tested today– and I had two classes with zero in-person students.

Turns out I can probably stop hassling the school board to shut down the schools, because my 8th graders are making that decision all by themselves. I have 142 8th grade students. Twelve showed up to physical school today.

We are spending too much money on buses, class coverage (I keep writing “subs” and having to delete it; there are no subs. Subs make $100 a day. If a teacher has to cover a class, that’s $35 an hour, and teachers are covering every single class) and just fucking keeping the lights on and the buildings heated for an entire grade’s worth of in-person learning to be twelve kids. I bet it will be fewer tomorrow, too; one or two of this group is going to go home and tell Mom that they only had one class with more than one other person in it and that’s gonna be it for them.

But hey, it’s not like my tax dollars pay for this or anything.

In which the autogaslighting continues

This is not my district, but it’s nearby, and I’m looking at this and reading it and genuinely doubting my own sanity, because I cannot for the life of me imagine why the fuck anyone would ever think any of this is a good idea.

Yesterday was the first day that Indiana had over 5000 new coronavirus cases. There were 5038. Today– and “today,” to make sure everyone understands, is a word that means “one day after yesterday,”– there were over 6500. School districts across northern Indiana and southern Michigan are going back to full-time virtual or dialing back on the plans they had in place, and this is what Mishawaka thinks is a good idea once 2nd semester starts? Not only are they dumping all of their grade-cohort kids into the building at the same time, thus doubling the number of students in every single class they’re in, thus fucking up any actual chance at social distancing in hallways, classrooms, or at lunch, but by shifting to grade-only cohorts they’re guaranteeing that lots and lots of families with more than one child are sending those kids to school on different days.

Like fucking hell the Board of Health okayed that. I don’t believe that for a second. And they actually talk about how they already don’t have the staff to keep the buildings open! Do you think this shit is going to get better come January? You want people to be more vigilant, but you’re making the situation in your buildings worse on purpose???

And they don’t get into this in the letter, but if you were to click through and look at some of their individual school plans, you’d find out that they’re tying whether you can be 100% virtual to grades and attendance. In other words, they think that if your grades are poor they can require you to come to school part time.

Utter fucking madness. It’s either them or me. Someone is completely crazy. I just wish I could be certain who it was, because more and more I find myself living in a world where I have to conclude that huge numbers of the people around me are out of their Goddamned minds, and eventually it’s going to get to the point where it has to be me and not them.

Fuck.