An email I didn’t send

Dear Sir and/or Madam:

I have received your email communication of Jul 27th, and it did indeed find me well, at least for a moment, until the subject of your message sunk in and I found my previous wellness replaced with a bone-deep, nearly painful level of exhaustion. While in principle I do agree that we will be working together this year and that we should discuss such things as the curriculum we will be teaching, I feel compelled to remind you that it remains July for several more days yet, and that furthermore it is also somehow still March, and that at the moment I find myself entirely unable to do anything so civilized as “plan” for any so-called “future.” At the moment I barely even believe tomorrow is happening. Three weeks from now is literally unimaginable, and yes, I know what both of those words mean and I assure you I am using them accurately.

Furthermore, I have stalked you on Facebook and you look like a cop, and while I admit and agree that forming an early impression of someone by such means is manifestly unfair, doing so has not led to the cessation of one single bit of my current level of exhaustion. In addition, your use of “your new partner in math” as the closure to your email is unnecessarily precious when a simple “yours,” or perhaps the somewhat archaic but at least moderately humorous “Your obdt. servant” would have sufficed.

In conclusion, please do not expect a response to your query prior to the 3rd August, and later than that is a strong possibility. Responses to this message will be deleted unread, and I swear to God and baby Jesus that if you email my ass just to say “Okay!” or “Thanks!” I will kill myself on the spot and haunt the dog shit out of you and your descendants unto the 4th generation.

I remain,

L.M. Siler

In which I make this simple

I wrote this Tweet last night:

I had a hard time getting to sleep last night– those damn eye shields really are a pain in the ass– but beyond that I was busy writing this post in my head, starting with the kids waiting outdoors for the bus and going through to the end of the day. And, yeah, it was going to be long as hell. Like, Star Wars movie review levels of long.

And then I thought about it this morning, and it occurred to me that this doesn’t really need to be complicated.

We cannot reopen schools yet.

We cannot reopen schools because there is no way to make 34 people crowded into the same room safe, masks or otherwise. It is not possible given perfect compliance from everyone involved, and we will not get anything even vaguely close perfect compliance from everyone involved. And that, really, is the end of it. I can talk all I want about hand sanitizer and bathrooms and hallways and passing periods and discipline and lunch and breakfast and, dear God, band and choir,(*) but it all keeps boiling down to the fact that in my classroom I will have 32 kids and another adult beyond myself and that is not safe. Period.

I would be more willing to give this a shot if my district was setting things up in such a way that I saw half of my students each day. But even then, that model only holds up until someone gets sick, which is inevitable. Once we start talking about contact tracing and quarantine all hell breaks loose, and the one place where I am willing to literally point and laugh at my district leaders is when they claim that there will be enough subs to cover sick and/or quarantined adults.

This is an utter fantasy. No, there will not. There aren’t enough pencils and paper, for God’s sake, there will not be enough hand sanitizer and there will not be enough masks and there sure as hell will not be enough subs. There haven’t been enough subs for years. It’s not going to get better when the subs have to shove their faces into a petri dish to go make their little $100 a day, and once a single sub gets sick we have now potentially infected multiple buildings in the course of just a few days.

We can’t do this. We might try and do it anyway, because if you ever thought that maybe Americans weren’t utter idiots the last six months have rather definitively proved you wrong, but we can not do this.

I also keep seeing people throwing up their hands and pretending to panic about What Parents Will Have to Do if their kids remain home. I have said this before, and I will reiterate: first of all, your kids have been home since March, so let’s not pretend that this is a new problem. Your kids are home right now, because it is summertime, and there is no magic switch that flips in August and makes whatever child care scenario you have going right now somehow magically impossible. Keep doing whatever you’re doing right now. It might suck! I agree! I have a kid too, and I’ve been at home with him since March as well!

I agree. I just don’t care. Because your child care problems are not a reason for me to endanger my health and my family’s health. Your child care problems are not a reason to make what is already uncontrolled spread of a highly contagious and incredibly dangerous disease massively worse. Because that’s what will happen.

There are going to be teacher strikes in a few weeks if this isn’t settled better, folks. We aren’t going back. Nobody’s going back. Best get used to it right now.

And yes, this was absolutely the short version.

(*) I have many friends who are band and choir teachers. I am very sorry, but your classes are just going to have to go away this year. Your classes generate so many droplets that band instruments have special valves that are used to drain the spit out of them. It’s just not possible to do this safely right now, even in comparison with other classes. I love y’all, but … no.