I was all set to get rolling again last Monday. My lunch was packed, my clothes for the day had been selected, and my lesson plans were ready to go. I got up at 5am, as usual, and since I had been having some mild cold symptoms over the weekend, I decided to take a Covid test — for the third day in a row — just to be safe.
I swabbed, I swirled, I tapped, I put three drops in the chamber, and then I set the timer for 15 minutes.
While I was waiting, I took some cold medicine and moved through my routine as though I would be out the door in just a little while. However, when the timer dinged, I saw the faintest line ever. I checked the packaging and consulted my husband before I was convinced that yes, a very faint line is indeed a positive test.
Then I started the texting — the assistant principal in charge of substitutes, the principal, the director of HR, my student teacher.
They were all compassionate, of course, saying “Take care of yourself!” and “Get plenty of rest,” but all I was thinking was, The last thing I want during the fourth week of school is to miss a whole week!
But these things are sometimes outside of our control.
So, for the past week, I have not been firing on all cylinders. No, I have been in bed. I have slept 10-12 hours a day, mustered the strength to make a pot of soup, then rolled back into bed to read a novel, falling asleep at intervals. I’ve watched mindless television, scrolled social media, worked on crossword puzzles, and done the bare minimum to keep my classes in motion in my absence.
I’ve written lesson plans and sent them to my student teacher and my substitute. I’ve graded the work that has been turned in. I’ve responded to student emails, and I’ve replied to texts.
But mostly, I’ve rested and slept, and it’s paying off.
Over the past several days, I have gradually regained strength, and I plan — again — to get rolling on Monday.
After such a long absence — have I ever missed a whole week of school? — I will have to do some work to reconnect, to reset the climate, to re-establish my expectations. Although my student teacher has been at the helm for a week, I know there has been some confusion and some frustration.
Job one will be to hear from everyone — what did I miss? what do you want me to know?
Job two will be to provide clarity and reassurance — Yes, this is what we are working on, let me show you what it should look like, we’re all going to get through this together.
I’ll be doing all this in a mask, of course, because if you’ve been home with a positive case, and are symptom free after five days, you can return to real life, as long as you mask for 5 more days. Some of my colleagues have been masking all along — a few students, too. It’s not a bad idea, to continue using that precaution. I have opted to go mask free, even in my classroom because a) the mask is hot, b) I believe students hear and understand better when they can see my face, and c) two and a half years later, I just want Covid to be over.
This past week has been a reminder that it is indeed not over.
We’d been vaxed and double-boosted, of course, but I’d been pushing off the latest booster for a weekend when “I don’t have anything going on.” Sigh.
We’d had a bit going on, of course. The week before we tested positive, my husband and I had been at a conference with a couple hundred people. Later that week we had attended a celebration dinner with a couple hundred more. In neither setting did we mask. In fact, both events were rich with people we hadn’t seen in a long time, so we hugged, we chatted, we laughed.
Did we catch Covid at one of those events or just in our normal everyday interactions with students and coworkers? It’s hard to tell, but catch it we did.
As someone who experienced Covid early on — in the fall of 2020 — I will say the second time wasn’t easier. In fact, I think I was hit harder — more symptoms, more severe fatigue. Perhaps because we are vaxed, we were able to recover at home and didn’t have the severe symptoms that sometimes send folks to the hospital. For that, we are thankful.
But we still missed out — on a week of work, on several appointments we’d had scheduled, on a visit from our granddaughters. That last one hurt the most.
Nevertheless, we are on the road to recovery and hopefully ready to merge back into reality.
And, for the foreseeable future, reality includes Covid.
I’m obviously still trying to figure out what that means for me. For the coming week, at least, I’ll be masked in the classroom and I will stay away from any type of gathering, but after that, will I resume living as though we are post-Covid when the last week as taught me that we certainly are not?
I want to say that I have been transformed, that I will consistently mask and avoid large gatherings, and maybe I will, at least for a season, but my guess is that as the memory of this past week fades, I will likely gradually ease back “normal”. I’m not sure it’s the wisest course of action, though, so I wouldn’t mind if you joined me in praying about it.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him.James 1:5