On March 13, the Governor announced that all Utah schools would be “dismissed” for two weeks. That meant kids would stay at home and teachers would teach from within the schools — with parents’ help. Today the Park City School District announced that teachers would be teaching from home. Jeremy Ranch students were told to come to school and get another packet of work — and this time take laptops home.
It’s the slow beat of the drum — telling us that things aren’ getting back to normal any time soon. It’s time to consider what that will look like over the long-haul.
I am not implying that any decisions have formally been made. In fact, no one knows what course the pandemic will take. However, most experts hope the virus will peak in six to eight weeks. Utah state epidemiologist Angela Dunn says, “We know that we are at the very beginning of this epidemic. Outbreaks like this can be expected to last several months.” California Governor Gavin Newsome projected that 56% of the state’s population (which 25.5 million people) will be infected within eight weeks.
With those projections, it is unlikely any Park City student is stepping a foot back into a classroom on March 27 — the end of the two-week dismissal. In Park City, that’s a week before spring break, so the conventional wisdom will be to wait two more weeks. That gets us to April 13 which is a little over three weeks from now. By that time, it is likely the virus is just ramping up. Let’s say the virus does peak six weeks from now around May 4. That means it is at its height of damage — the top of that curve we’ve all been reading about flattening. How long does it take to get sufficiently down the other side? Two weeks? Three weeks? I can’t imagine an all-clear would come before a month after the peak.
And there we are on June 4. Schools out for Summer, unless of course, they decide to roll on through the Summer… but that’s something to opine on another day.
So, I believe now is the time to start thinking ahead. A couple of weeks of home-schooling is one thing. A couple of months is another. Do you need to change your work schedule? Can you and your partner juggle teaching the kids? Do you need to find someone to help care for your kids? Will the Family Leave Act be modified to account for these types of issues?
Now is the time to start planning.
Again, who knows. Utah never ceases to amaze me. Perhaps the state will decide that we need to drop social distancing and aim for herd immunity. Perhaps the state will decide that economics are more important than people. Perhaps Chloroquine is a miracle cure. Could happen.
However, it’s not too early to start considering a logical outcome. Planning ahead may help reduce the stress that I know many of us are feeling. Things are likely to get tougher before they get better.
Note: Before I get the hate mail on using the word “dismissed,” that is actually what our school district is calling these two weeks. That terminology likely came from the state.