Open Letter to My Sons’ School

Dear School Board and Administration,

Do you not understand how thoroughly exhausting this is? How every single day of my life is now shaped by your decisions to constantly alter the course of my children’s schooling?

The phone rings. A recorded message informs me that my two middle-school sons will now be “remote learning” for the next two days. My brain begins its mental gymnastics (again). I begin to process what the new morning routine will look like, adjusting timings to get one kid to school and two kids logging in. My brain strums through what meetings I have to coordinate for the day and what changes we will make for the next couple days.

My brain is constantly reading, processing and filtering emails from the school. This building is now closed. A case was reported in your son’s school, but your child does not have to quarantine. A case was reported in your son’s class but your son is not deemed a close contact so you can choose whether or not you want to keep your kid home in quarantine to do remote learning or to send them to school. Because this building is now closed, your son’s basketball practice has now moved to tomorrow at 8:30 instead of today at 7:30, but the other boy’s swim practice is now shifted to Saturday to allow for….

I take a sip of wine….

Because I don’t know how else to cope with the relentless stress. The constantly changing schedules. The pervasive uncertainty. The steady level of worry of exposure to COVID or the chance of one of us getting sick. The struggle to maintain some semblance of education and growth for the boys while balancing limited social contacts and the boys’ mental health.

Is it a “he’s tired” headache or a COVID headache? Does his belly hurt because he’s hungry or he’s sick? Is there a fever? Was that a cough? Do I send him to school or keep him home? Test him or wait it out? Do I call the school nurse or fill out an absence form or ask to make him remote…..or just say to hell with it?!?!

Do you not understand how tired and stressed we parents are as we try to understand the ever-shifting “guidelines” and “procedures” in this school district? As we try to figure out whether your guidance even makes sense based on data and science? As we struggle with the basic knowledge that we can not and have not been able to trust our community leaders to make the right decision?

I take a sip of wine….

I have spent the last couple weeks starting every email with “I apologize for my delay in responding.” Sometimes I attempt humor (“my kid left the garage door open and the pipes froze; I’ve been a bit distracted”). Sometimes I am honest and confess that I’m stressed and I’ve lost track of…well, of life. Sometimes I just move right along and answer the question I should have answered last week as if there weren’t seven days missing in there.

I’ve nicknamed myself “Last-minute Lynne.” My work is done the night before or it’s late. There’s no in-between. There is no staying on top of things. There is no managing anymore. Balls have dropped. Back-burner heat went out long ago. The to-do list got so long I’ve lost the first couple pages….

There is no relief in sight. Just constant worry. New COVID variants. New guidelines on masking. New impeachment trials and messy politics. New weather patterns and slippery roads. New research and new opinions. New vaccine roll-outs and new stimulus ideas. New evidence of health inequity and disparity. New, more, different, sudden, changing, insidious, good-luck-coping-with-this-curve-ball stress.

I take a sip of wine….

I’m a physician. I trained under a great deal of stress and experience stress at work which I can manage. But this stress is different and sneaks through my coping tactics. And, as a physician, I know that this chronic, ever-shifting stress is taking a toll on me. It’s taking a toll on my family as I waffle between fatigue and irritability. It’s taking a toll on health and on productivity. It’s taking a toll on my community and my city. It’s taking a toll on our country and across the world.

Dear school board and administrators, please decrease our stress.

Sincerely,

A very tired parent.

Cheers.

1 thought on “Open Letter to My Sons’ School

  1. Excellent Lynne! The whole country is experiencing this and it truly is taking a horrific toll. Glad you wrote this, parents need to keep up the pressure.

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