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Praying for back-to-school peace (and quiet) this fall

(AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

Did you hear what Governor Doug Ducey mentioned Wednesday?! Not a lot about new coronavirus reopenings – except that which brings tears to the eyes of parents: schools reopening!

(Cue the Tabernacle Choir:) “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

We’ve always girded our loins as summer approaches because the heat we experience in the Valley of the (Surface of the) Sun means sheltering-in-place with the kiddos for weeks on end – every year.

But, this year, summer break started when spring break did so, as much as I love and adore my kids, I’m beyond ready for my back-to-school break.

A word of warning: Before we start dreaming of a moment to ourselves (getting our hopes all up and stuff), we’d better face the cold, hard facts about what could happen after our hot, hard summer. This fall, for most of us, the kids probably won’t be out of the house during their usual time of between 7 a.m. and the after-school snack. And for others, summer break will just go on and on and on.

Why? The just-released guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control on how to reopen schools means they won’t reopen the way most of us parents are praying.

The CDC’s midrange risk suggestions (which we’ll probably see most places in Arizona) include small, in-person classes – with students 6 feet apart – and the same teacher with the same students all day (even for lunch). There are also some hybrid models the CDC suggests that include online learning with staggered, in-school schedules.

I wonder if any of those one-room schoolhouse teachers (think Old West Tombstone) are still alive? Because having one instructor for the whole day means they’d have to be versed in multiple disciplines – teaching readin’, writin’, geometry and — auto mechanics?

I’m guessing that the high schoolers who will spend all day in their homeroom will have their different subject teachers showing up via laptop. But if they go that route, that begs this question: Besides ensuring in-school attendance, couldn’t changing classes by changing browser windows be done at home?

And how are you going to keep the little kids 6 feet apart?  Hugging is high on my 7-year-old’s back-to-school list.

The CDC also suggests doing away with attendance awards (I heard of one Arizona school that puts students with perfect attendance into a drawing for a car). And assessing a school’s performance using its absenteeism rate needs to stop. That’s so that sick students and staff and the people who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 stay home.

Other suggestions from the CDC are obvious ones like disinfecting and deep cleaning school buildings and school buses. But the toughest thing to keep clean might be the school kids.

My wife says when she would line up her first grade students to wash their hands (pre-COVID), it not only took up a lot of instruction time, it would also be for naught when some kid would inevitably pick his nose before the end of the line even got done cleaning their nose-pickin’ digits.

There are a lot of obstacles to fulfilling my dream of an empty house this fall. (By the way, being able to hear myself think in my own home isn’t too much to ask.)

So, instead of practicing my “back-to-school” happy dance (done to the beat of Handel’s “Messiah”), I’d better practice how to deal with some deep-down daddy disappointment.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit

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