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Dad, writer, and former teacher weighs in



Multiple perspectives from a man who’s worn many hats

Multiple perspectives from a man who’s worn many hats


Writer Patrick Quinn acknowledges some thorny, family-centric aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic: all parents are wondering about school, and struggling not only with uncertainties, but also with guilt, resentment, and anxiety. Like him, I can speak from experience and say I know of no parents who aren’t concerned about the return to school, be it remote, on site, or some combo of the two. Frankly, if there are any chill parents out there, I don’t know anyone who wants to hear from them.

As Quinn puts it: “Should we go with the ‘1/16th-in-person, 3 days-a-week, Zoom-every-second-Tuesday-morning, classroom-learning-if-the-moon-is-waxing-crescent’ plan? Or should we submit to the perpetual Groundhog Day that our lives have become, and accept that the kids will virtually learn on our couches until they’re 40?”

Interestingly, Quinn admits that when he was a childless teacher in his mid-20s, he would have strenuously objected to sending kids back to school. But now, as a dad, he realizes how much better his kids – and most kids – do in the classroom, and what a poor substitute remote learning is for the real thing. And he desperately cares about his kids’ education, and their socialization. Even as he deeply recognizes the potential risks not only to his children, but even more so to the at risk-populace to whom asymptomatic youngsters can – and do – transmit the virus, he has also seen the increasingly detrimental effects of long range screen time.

Teachers need some love, too. He maintains they are even more frustrated than parents, and they are being asked to do the impossible. The expectations placed on them regarding reopening plans – a dizzying onslaught of new rules, protocols, precautions – is being “thrown at them without even addressing the possibility of them getting sick from one of the biological-weapons-in-a-Shimmer-and-Shine-backpack they teach every day.”

It’s a mess. Does he offer concrete tips on how to navigate it all? Not really. But he articulates a lot of what both parents and teachers are feeling, hopefully making them feel seen and respected, and sometimes that is more than enough.

Thanks to Patrick Quinn for sharing his experiences.



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