The Crushing Reality of Zoom School

Esquire:

NOTE – Excellent description of the horrors of lockdown, but Esquire mistakenly blames Trump for a problem we know has been caused by power-mad governors.

Are you muted?”

The first thing my five-year-old learned in kindergarten, set up at a tiny desk in the corner of our dining room, is to always stay muted. It’s probably the wrong thing to teach a child, but not everyone remembers, and then life bleeds in. Zoom school becomes a portal into worlds you never see as a parent making awkward smalltalk at pickup.

You can hear a mom working a job doing collections for medical billing. Call after call.

A dad who calls his sister on speakerphone. They fight most days.

Grandparents asking how long it’s going to take. There are babies wailing.

TVs, so many TVs, an endless buzz of TVs. The weather. The news. Game shows and talk shows.

Are you muted?

Of course Zoom school is a nightmare—with the lack of time to properly plan and the lack of funds to make anything work, how was it going to be anything else?—but every school option right now is. Depending on where you live, school has started as an endless navigation of web logins, unmutes, and dropped connections at home; attempts at confusing part-time hybrid schedules that help only the calendar industry; or the fuck it approach that has already lead to sick kids and teachers, with many more to come.

Every choice has been terrible since the start of the pandemic, when we were told we had to choose life or an economy, a false dichotomy from the start—mass death and sickness are also bad for the economy—but the awful choices we face as parents at the start of school feel especially difficult because we’re all burnt out. The idea of facing all of this for one more day, let alone the seemingly endless months ahead, feels basically impossible. The pandemic balancing act for parents—choose two: your kids, your job, or your health—has always been difficult, but six months in it’s in full collapse.

At this point Esquire makes a stupid assertion: “The blame lies with the President”. Skip that and read on …

Making school work in September required vision, action, funding, and resolve on the part of people far above your teacher or school board member in the spring when everything shut down. None of it came.

The entire point of the shutdowns was to buy time, to make plans, to lay a foundation for a return that would work. All that time got flushed away by a president more obsessed with hyping miracle cures than doing the hard, thankless work of grinding out a workable plan with scientists and educators and then funding it at a level that could make it actually feasible.

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