Today, I happened to visit with our high school principal.  He was outside, just up from the baseball fields—where two huge tents have been set up. 

“Those are for outdoor classrooms,” he told me.  “Teachers can use them whenever they feel it makes sense. 

“We got the sides for the tent, too,” he noted.  “Rain often comes down sideways, and it just seemed to make more sense, as long as we were already going for the expense of the tents.” 

We talked about the staff, and how pleased he was that so many were coming back.  We chatted about our children, too, as our kids are similar in age.  One of his daughters was all set to go back to college—until six days before move-in.  That’s when her school announced that they felt it safest to continue with virtual.

Friends are posting their first-day-of-school photos on Facebook, and we parents are all talking.  In Illinois, it’s masks (three times a day “mask-free break”), but in-person five days a week for my niece. 

In Massachusetts, they are completely virtual until at least October 23 in the western part of the state.  In the south, where my niece is, they hope to be back for four days a week, and then a week off, but only starting September 21st on.

In Wisconsin, kids are going back with no restrictions, buses running normally and sports continuing. 

 In Pennsylvania, it’s masks, but five days a week, in-person classes. 

Here in Vermont, we are looking at one day a week in-person for high schoolers (two for elementary), and the rest of the time on-line.  The high school principal said that it “seemed to be a good compromise for everyone”.

The silver lining in all this is not very clear to me. I am tired of adjusting, and I am ready for a return to some routine, something I can count on. 

I’m impressed by the determination our school staff are showing, addressing the complex situations as best as they can, responding to each community as they can.  In rural Illinois, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, they are just not as concerned about the spread.

Although our numbers continue to be “great” for our little state, we are always aware of our proximity to large urban centers.  (New York City is only a four-hour drive.)  It makes us wary.  It’s not hard to find people who have lost friends or relatives, even if we still remain largely untouched here.

Learning to put others’ safety before our own wishes… that’s the silver lining I am finding out of all of this.