My Back to School Solution: Plexiglass

Today’s topic was the same as it is basically every day on the news…COVID, COVID, COVID. Baseball started less than a week ago and already 12 players and their coaches are sick. Businesses are still trying to figure out how to navigate the waters safely while state and local governments are trying to figure out if they should shut everything down.

All while planning for our kids to go back to school. I told my bestie just the other day that I am so very glad that I do not have school age kids anymore. My youngest graduated in December right before all this madness started and I am so thankful.

It’s a stressful topic. For parents and teachers. And probably students, too. There’s the online only option. There’s the classroom option. The county I live in has released their 25 page plan. My friend in Florida has a 32 page plan. Her child goes to a private school and they are talking about things like having disposable everything if you bring your lunch. Meaning, food has to be brought in a brown bag. Sandwiches in baggies. No cold packs that need to go back home. And everything gets tossed at lunch. Very wasteful and not likely to save anybody’s life. Masks have to be worn at all times except for lunch and gym class (that’s hours at a time), both which will be socially distant (as if that’s possible). And kid’s will be re-taught basic hygiene and how to take off their masks to sneeze and cough into a tissue and then put their masks back on (because we all know how easy it is to plan for a sneeze).

So then, I thought, what would I do if I were the principal of a school or a superintendent of a whole school system?

Plexiglass.

That’s what I would do.

Seems like it’s easy enough to come by since all the grocery stores and convenience stores have it.

Plexiglass classrooms. And plexiglass lunchrooms.

Walk into my twisted brain for a moment….

Imagine if you will, a classroom. You walk in, the desks are set up like a regular classroom…desks facing the front of the room, the teacher facing the desks. Hanging in front of the teaching “area” is a large long piece of plexiglass, say, 8ft long by 4ft tall hanging so the teacher’s waist up is covered (unless she’s 8 ft tall). Around each desk is a plexiglass “cubicle.” It’s as wide as the desk in the front plus an extra foot and on the sides it is 2 ft longer on the sides to allow for the chair to slide in and out. Kids come into school with their masks on. Maybe each desk has hand sanitizer and tissue nearby. Backpacks stay with the student instead of in a cubby or locker for younger kids. Gym class is cancelled unless they are outside on a track and 10 feet from one another. Instead, gym turns into “self-care” classes, where they are taught yoga and positive self talk (outside or 10 feet away), because not being able to touch and hug your friends can eventually make you feel alone. Music turns into music appreciation for a year or so until things get ironed out. Art turns into art appreciation for the same duration… that way everyone keeps their hands, and their breath, and germs to themselves… in their plexiglass bubble.

Lunch continues in the lunchroom, the lunch ladies get their plexiglass that has just enough space for them to slide trays through or scoop food or whatever they do these days. Those who bring their own lunch, can continue to do so in whatever form they want, and the cafeteria tables get… you guessed it… plexiglass. But not hanging. More like tic tac toe on the table. Moms, you know that cardboard that comes in a case of wine or in a box of glassware? (I’m the only one who’s ever bought a case of wine?) So you have one long piece of plexiglass going the length of the table and little slide in pieces that fit crossways going the width of the table and going up about 3 feet. Kids can take off masks and eat and they can see their friends faces and still talk and laugh and feel connected.

In the midst of all this, we teach our kids to clean their area before they leave. Not just throw their trash away, but physically wipe their germs away with soap & water, so whoever comes behind them is at a lesser risk of getting sick. Teachers lounges look the same. Distance. Plexiglass. Masks.

I don’t think it is reasonable to expect kids or teachers to be able to focus on what they are doing if all they can think about is their sweaty upper lip or the fabric of their mask sucking into their mouth with every breath.

I think masks in the hallway, in the bathroom, on the bus, yes. But as soon as everyone gets their hand sanitizer or hand washing before walking in the classroom, masks should get to come off and there should be some other form of protection. Plexiglass.

Again, this is just one girl’s opinion that doesn’t even really matter because I don’t have kids. But I love your kids and I want them to be happy, safe, and comfortable at school since that public school tv thing hasn’t caught on yet.

Happy Tuesday everyone! Stay safe out there!

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