My daughter is coming to the close of her first-grade year, now; she started school last year, the COVID year, and had what was a good classroom experience interrupted by closures proceeding from the outbreak and reactions to it. This year, because we live where we live and my wife and I are considered essential workers–and we are in lines of work that do not admit well of working remotely–our daughter was back in the classroom. Overall, I am proud of her and pleased with her teachers and her school; they’ve done a lot under far less than ideal circumstances, and they are to be commended. (On the whole; there’ve been a few things I’d’ve rather not seen, but that’s true in the best of times.)
Like many parents, I am concerned about the effects the disruptions will have on my child. I am not so much worried about her “keeping up,” really; grade levels are a social construction that can and should be adjusted, and my wife and I, both having been academics, are in position to be able to supplement what our daughter gets in the classroom (and were going to be doing so anyway, virus or no). For me, the concerns are for her socialization and for lingering trauma occasioned by the sudden disruption.
I do not mean to imply that we have had it hard, here. There were cases of the novel coronavirus in my close family, yes, but they were mild and passed easily. My daughter was not one of those afflicted, either. Nor yet did we experience economic hardship; like I note above, my wife and I both qualify as essential workers, and our workplaces continued to operate throughout the pandemic–so our paychecks kept coming, even if my wife could not get the overtime to which she had grown accustomed in the months prior to the outbreak.
But even for our daughter–who was not sick and who had access to the kind of informational infrastructure that allowed for remote learning–it was a hard thing. She left school for spring break and didn’t go back again, and even now, more than a year later and with most of another school year done, she still voices worry that her friends and teachers are going to go away. I have to wonder how long she will harbor such fears and what effects those fears will have on her ability to form friendships. I did poorly enough at such things when I was her age, and I feel the lack now; I would spare her the same, could I do so.
This school year was better, admittedly. Even if it ends now, we made it a lot further through it than last time; it was a more thoroughgoing experience for her. My daughter has grown and improved quite a bit, although there are certainly areas in which she could do better; staying on task has been an issue, and I have to wonder how much of it results from the necessarily fragmented nature of the distance learning she got earlier on in her scholastic career. (I am trying to avoid the cildas þissum dægum that I hate to see in so many places. I really am.) And I have to wonder how matters will fall out next year; she will go into second grade, so she will not be quite at the point of testing culture yet, but it will be coming for her.
But I am a parent. Of course I worry.