Covid School Shutdowns

Hearing on the news in March that schools would be shut down for two weeks to slow the spread, felt like nothing less than a twilight zone. I still remember going to the school to pick up his work, and the tears just started rolling. I am honestly not much of a cryer, but in those moments of uncertainty, I was extremely overwhelmed. His aid gave me a big hug (something that probably wasn’t allowed at the time, but was exactly what I needed in that moment). I collected myself and walked back to the car.

I headed for the park (which at that time was still open), and tried to breath in the fresh air and just adjust my mind to concentrate on enjoying this extra time I was now granted with my kiddos. I got a call shortly after, asking if I could stop back by the school, they had a few more items they wanted to give me.

When I got there, I felt like they were handing me half their classroom. They gave me an exercise ball chair, more little gadgets that Damion liked to help keep him on task in class, and even a sweet marble run set that they used as a reward for him in class. They were just as wonderful as ever, doing everything they could to help us through these unprecedented times.

I attempted to remind myself that everyone was dealing with this, not just me. I tried to count my blessings: I already had the ability to stay at home, so I wasn’t trying to juggle a new childcare setup and Damion (my oldest) was only in Kindergarten. So, I only had to focus on getting him through it. My situation could have been far worse.

I was mentally preparing myself to become half teacher/ half mom to a little man who compartmentalizes his life in a way that he is not willing to budge much on. School is where he does school things, and home is where he does home things. He doesn’t much like straying from that known setup. I knew it would be hard getting him on a new schedule that involved us doing school work at home each day, but I found out that hard was quite an understatement.

For being thrown into everything quickly, the school did a great job getting assignments out for the kids. I definitely felt like information-wise, I had everything I could have needed. Unfortunately knowing the assignments was far from the issue at our house. I would start off first thing in the morning working our way from assignments Damion liked least to the easier stuff. This basically meant we started with any tasks that involved actual writing and would work our way to digital stuff like the educational apps the school used. Sounds easy enough except I forgot to mention the fights, and meltdowns, and constant feeling like I was doing too much myself just to get through the work, which wasn’t helping him.

The first two weeks of assignments weren’t a lot. The school’s schedule already had a spring break planned for that time so I was basically able to space out one week of work over two weeks’ time. This meant we could work in short spurts with lots of breaks, rewards, bribes, etc to try and get through all the material. I was just thankful that kindergarten did not have too huge of an expected workload. We struggled hard, but powered through those two weeks. And if only if would have been two weeks…

The news came in that schools would be shut down longer. The two weeks turned into a month, and the month eventually turned into the remainder of the year. The school adjusted their methods, offering more of the work to be accessed digitally, with options for printing or picking up packets for those that didn’t have internet access. Teachers uploaded videos and scheduled zoom calls to try to keep the class somewhat connected.

The first two weeks’ worth of school at home was hard, but it had nothing on having the rest of the school year from home. Zoom meetings were not something that Damion was willing to do, he would immediately try to run away or hang up as soon as the call started. So, we opted out of those. The therapies he is set to receive through his IEP now had to be looked at as well. Since zoom meetings were not an option, his therapists just started to send me items that we could work on at home as well. But as our lists of things to do became larger and larger, and my job now turned from Teacher/Mom into Teacher/Mom/Speech Therapist/ Occupation Therapist/ Physical Therapist/Intervention Specialist, the already impossible became just that much more evident.

I kept good communication with his teachers and aids. They were aware of our problems and were very understanding to the whole situation. Over time, the more I pushed, the more meltdowns and rough days we had. I am no stranger to a meltdown, but I hadn’t seen it this bad for Damion in years. Eventually I reached a point where I threw in the towel. I did what I could, turned in what I could, and began our somewhat altered summer vacation a few weeks early. It was not the end to a Kindergarten year I was looking for, a year started so strong, but at that point I was just happy to be through it. We looked forward to the fall hoping by then there were be some return to normal.