School began today, after a fashion.
We are starting fully remote, which means two kids on iPads all day with two grownups working full time in and around them. It isn't going to be easy, but today was a half-day, and it actually went sort-of ok.
My son is starting kindergarten. His teacher was completely on top of things and sent us a flurry of emails and materials last night, so we felt pretty prepared. His day was pretty abbreviated because they are doing a slow start to kindergarten this year. He had a few videos from his teacher and a couple of coloring activities and that was about it. I can't say I was super-impressed with his first day, but it was ok and he made it through without too much trouble. Tomorrow we get an actual 1:1 meeting with his teacher, and hopefully a little more instruction of some sort.
My daughter is starting second grade. Her teacher did not send us much communication or materials so this morning was a scramble trying to figure out the necessary Google Meet links and things like that. Once we got it sorted out things went moderately well. We gave my daughter a space upstairs for herself, which as far as I know she pretty much stayed in. I was downstairs monitoring kindergarten, and my wife was in meetings pretty much all day, so I wasn't able to give my daughter very much supervision. Occasionally I would hear screaming or stomping coming from upstairs, but it seemed like when that would happen she was muted. I'd still like to discourage this behavior as much as possible, but I don't think she was causing disruption to the class. (We will see what her teacher has to say...) At the end of the day she declared school to have been 'pretty good' and she was excited that she got to show off the ammonite her grandparents sent her at show and tell.
Today went ok, but it was still hard - my 10am meeting was interrupted several times, I went to investigate screaming and stomping a few times, and I am not really sure yet how much actual learning occurred. But it was just one day and I think things will get better once we settle into a routine. It is possible that this cautious optimism is another form of self-delusion, but for now it is keeping me from completely losing it, so I will stick with it.
There has been a lot of hand-wringing and complaining in the parent community about how this school year is going to play out. I sympathize with pretty much everyone who is frustrated and having a hard time with it. But I try to keep in my head that as hard as my wife and I are working, the teachers and other educators are working harder. All the options on the table are pretty awful and I strongly suspect that it pains them as much as or more than it pains me.
Our next big decision is whether or not to send the kids to the hybrid schooling model in the next phase or whether to keep them remote. This is an enormously difficult decision as both options seem kind-of terrible. Personally I wish they would keep the current remote model until things seem genuinely safe - the hybrid model that our town is proposing feels pretty terrible to me. I'm not sure exactly what we'll end up doing, though we have to decide tonight, I think we will probably keep the kids remote at least at first, but we'll see what my wife has to say about that...