Like most of us in these uncertain times, I don’t even know where to begin. I don’t know which way is up. I know that like many of you, I’m overwhelmed. I want to preface this entire thing by recognizing my privilege and openly stating that I have it better than a lot of people. I get to work from home and not worry about a paycheck for now. So, that helps. But it certainly doesn’t make this easy.
For four days I have not had any sense of taste or smell. Absolutely zero. Today, I ate two lemon slices hoping to “jolt” my senses back into being. A few days ago, I googled this and decided it was allergies. Today, I googled again. There are several articles out in British outlets describing this as a symptom of people carrying Coronavirus. However, no hospital will test me since I have no serious symptoms. We will apparently have to wait and see. If anyone else in the house (God forbid) has serious symptoms, they can get tested. For now, I will assume that I carry/carried the virus and my entire household is exposed to it.
In addition to worrying that I and my family have Coronavirus, I’m homeschooling my third grader, providing daycare to my 2 year old, and remotely teaching my education classes at Ivy Tech. I also have mountains of laundry And my kids are ravaging all the snacks. It’s a lot. I wonder how long this is really sustainable.
This blog, once used as a venue to provide critical friendship to Indianapolis Public Schools, is temporarily being repurposed to document the experiences of K-16+ educators navigating this new reality. I’m inviting others to document their experiences here, too. Then some happy day in the future, when we can look back at this from some distance, we may collectively compile these experiences.
Back to the current Coronavirus pandemic situation. I recognize the severity of this and the need for social distancing. But. A part of me wonders if this restructuring of our work/home life is some crude experiment.
My big question is this. What are the implications of this being successful? So. We prove ourselves capable of working from home while simultaneously taking care of our own children and all the other tasks that adulting requires of us?
I worry a lot. My worry is that our recent historical trend is toward demanding more and more from our workforce, while pay, benefits and personal protections do not keep pace with demand. In a time of economic uncertainty and the gig economy, we are proving that we are capable of taking on even more.
Is this a wise thing to do? Will it provide a basis for an even more sinister future neoliberal turn, especially when it comes to public education? For example, two years from now, will policy makers look to this time period to justify a shorter school year? A shortened week, perhaps? Or, maybe it will justify a huge proliferation in online schools? Or, other alternatives to traditional public schools, because clearly parents can rise to the occasion and educate their children when public education is not provided.
The policy makers will probably look to the almighty test scores. With standardized testing being cancelled for this year, how will this pan out?