We go back to school this week, though I’ve been working quite a bit already. Our district will be starting the year with a “hybrid” of in-person and remote learning. It’s a tremendous amount of planning, of new, and of stress. I’m nervous about going back. While COVID-19 cases have been low in my state, I fear going back will cause them to rise. Really, it seems inevitable. And guidance from the governor requires cases in three different classrooms before it’s considered an outbreak and school returns to remote learning. I’m not sure that’s really enforceable, as his previous (non) guidance gave districts the power to decide how the year would start, and many districts are starting fully remote.
Anyway, that’s really neither here nor there. The point is, it’s a big unknown. A life or death unknown. And it’s scary.
At the same time, I’m really excited to be returning to in-person work, to collaborate and chat with colleagues, to have kids in my classroom. Even though it will be different, and hard, and scary, it will also be so good for my mental health.
Being home alone for so long is starting to really have an impact on me. My stress levels are higher than normal. I’m feeling actual loneliness, when before being alone felt like a treat. That was back when I had social interactions with friends and colleagues. My brain says, no one should go back. It’s not safe. But my heart is craving the connection.
So I go back this week. And I’ll take precautions. I’ll wear my mask. Disinfect, wash hands, repeat. I’ll have a HEPA filter next to my desk to help reduce the viral load. When I come home, I’ll have a laundry basket at the door so I can strip and shower.
Then I’ll play with my pup. I’ll do my workout. I’ll read and write and try to relax. Because my mental health has to be the most important priority and the only one who can choose that for me is me.