5 Days In We Were Quarantined From School

Five days into the ‘new normal school year’ my daughter was quarantined from school.

I had my heart set on keeping my kids home and doing e-learning for the first semester of the school year. I knew it was a bad choice for us. But, I had more questions than I had answers. I was less than thrilled with how things were being handled by politicians. And I refused to let my kids be a pawn in a game. I went down rabbit holes of research on masks and asymptomatic carriers. I was losing sleep and constantly stressed. My husband told me he would leave the choice to me since I was the one most affected by it.

The Decision for In-Person School

One day he looked at me and said, “they need to go to school.” I cried (because I always cry) and because I knew he was right. I had to put my fears aside and do what was best for my children’s mental well being as well as their education. Two of my children have IEPs (individual education plans) for different needs and e-learning was so awful for them. So awful for me as well. When my husband lovingly told me to send them back, it was a relief.

We had promised my daughter she could finish 5th grade at the school she had been at since VPK despite having moved. But 5th grade wasn’t shaping up to look like it was ‘supposed to.’ Half her friends would be e-learning; there would be no field trips; no hugs; they would be social distanced- mask-wearing chorus. A week after school started in Manatee county, we moved our kids over and started on a new adventure. Everything that Hillsborough county said couldn’t be done, Manatee county does. They take temperatures at the door. Also, they have plexiglass dividers between desks. They have health sheets sent home daily. My husband and I were so excited and so set on our choice and high fived as we dropped the kids off for their first day of school.

And then…

Five days later, on August 31st the school nurse called me. Apparently my daughter had a fever of 100.4 and a headache and I needed to come to get her. Instant panic. (again I always panic when I have to pick a kid up from school, so I’m trying to keep calm. I had my youngest home for fever and possible ear infection and we were going to the pediatrician later anyway) I should also add, I take sickness very seriously and keep my kids home if they have an elevated temperature of 99 degrees. One day of rest and fluids is better than missing a week of school or spreading germs.

When my pediatrician said it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep all the kids home for fourteen days and to get my oldest tested, I felt my heart stop. I just sent them to school! I just made one of the hardest choices as a parent I’ve had to make and now, my worst fear is slowly unfolding before me.

Quarantined from School for 14 days!

The next day, the principal called. There was a positive case in my daughter’s class and now the whole class, the teacher, and the ESE support person were placed in quarantine. Had my daughter not already been home, I would have had to get her ASAP from school. I had made the choice to get her tested earlier that morning and had decided to keep my other two children home as well. Per my principal, the younger two could return to school as long as they had no symptoms since it was a secondary exposure but if not they should also be quarantined from school.

I played it safe and kept them home until we got our negative test results since my youngest was having some symptoms also. If you’re keeping track, we had been in school five days and now missed five days. We were not told the name of the person who had tested positive but we were told the last time my daughter would have had contact with them, which was the day prior, when we had left school with a list of symptoms.

Back to E-learning

Tuesday the class and teacher were quarantined from school. They had someone pack up all the kids’ supplies and place them in the office and Wednesday we started e-learning. Manatee county uses Schoology instead of zoom. We have a class page that has all our daily assignments listed as well as times for our class calls. Three calls per day each lasting about 90 minutes. And kudos to my daughter’s teacher-that saint of a woman would have calls in between those calls for anyone who needed extra help.

The e-learning schedule followed the class schedule fairly well for the most part. They took their tests and quizzes as scheduled, turned in homework daily, and got their grades. Each morning call the teacher would remind everyone how to check for their work, go over the previous day’s work. The students asked questions and interacted as if they were in class. Minus a few “unmute yourself. Still on mute. Just type it in the chat” technical issues, the days were relatively stress-free.

Quarantined from School during COVID

COVID has the same symptoms in kids as all other children’s illnesses. Strep throat is going around. Sinus infections are going around. Our kids have been away from anyone or any other germs since March so this year is going to be challenging. While we were in quarantine another class was placed in quarantine also. Every single symptom is the same as a cold, or strep throat, or the flu. Which, I think, is very rude. If we have to deal with a pandemic all other illnesses need to stop. That is enough 2020.

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