Since March 13th I have been working remotely due to the covid-19 pandemic and it was weird and rough and tiring. Yet the idea of going back to work in person caused me some anxiety. Most of my colleagues were happy to come back because they missed the students but I was nervous about possible exposure to covid-19. The school decided that all students except PK would return to school on August 17th. To limit the possibility of exposure all people on campus would get their temperatures taken at the gate, be required to wear masks and clean their hands with hand sanitizer before entering the campus. On campus the following changes were made: one way hallways, hand washing stations because our bathrooms are really small with only two sinks, online payments for lunch and pre selected options. Teachers are required to leave their classroom doors and windows open and there are a couple of tents placed around campus for teachers to hold groups outside. Luckily it is an outdoor campus so students are often outside.
On the first day some of the students and parents were excited to be back but there was a lot of anxiety about exposure. While masks are required, some have taken to wearing face shields without masks and this makes me very nervous. There are no after school activities and only strength training and mild exercising but no contact sports in PE. In the past 2 weeks I have discovered that wearing and talking in a mask all day is exhausting, it leaves your mouth and throat dry.
One challenge is reminding students not to stand so close to each other and to put the masks back on after they eat but I hope this will get easier with time. In order to minimize the amount of people on campus, parents are only allowed on campus with appointments. This year I plan to do less group presentations so I turned the bulletin board outside my office into a university announcement board. I’m lucky because unlike teachers the bulk of my interactions are with one student at a time. But I still have to remind students to sit on the other side of my desk. Every day we commit to do our part to continue to encourage students to practice social distancing in an effort to stay healthy as we engage in new ways.
For me I am dedicated to maintaining self care so that I can manage my anxiety. Some of the ways I’m practicing self care is by wearing head wraps every day so I don’t have to do my hair and I hired a driver to take me to and from work so I don’t have to negotiate with taxis. I have not gone to the hair salon since I have been back, I am nervous because not all businesses are wearing masks. So I limit my exposure by staying home and relaxing on the weekends.
So far the first two weeks have been without any major incidents and I pray that we will get to the Christmas holidays without an outbreak on campus. Yesterday I woke up to news that Chadwick Boseman had died at age 42 after a battle with colon cancer and it got me to thinking about life, legacy and love. I was saddened at his death but grateful for the lessons of purpose and determination the world learned from him. I am immensely happy that we gave him his honor and accolades while he lived, that he brought Black Panther, a super hero to a whole generation of young children and made us proud to be black. Rest in peace and prayers of comfort to all who loved him. #BlackPanther #Wakandaforever #internationalschoolcounselor #anewnormal #BlackExpat