It’s my first day of kindergarten! I’m excited and I’m a little scared about it. Will my teacher be nice? Will we get to play? Will the other kids be nice? Will I get germs? Will I learn to read? Will they like my mask?
It’s the first day of school. I haven’t been this nervous since my first year teaching. Will the kids be scared? Will they keep their masks on? Will they be comfortable? Will they think school is a safe place? Will I be exposed to COVID?
Mommy said she wanted to come with me for my first day, but no parents are allowed in the school anymore. I want to cry a little more about that, but Mommy reminds me to be brave. Time to get on the bus! I have a “signed seat” and Bus Driver says I sit here everyday. I sit with another kindergartner. She has brown hair and a pink mask. She seems nice, but she might have germs or cooties. I try to stay in “my bubble” like mommy taught me, but there isn’t a lot of room in the bus seat. I think I’m on the bus for three hours or maybe five, but we finally get to school! Bus Driver says we have to wait until it is our turn to get off, because we can’t all go in at the same time. I really don’t want to wait anymore, but I don’t want to get in trouble like the other boy who tried to switch seats or the two girls who were holding hands, so I sit as quiet as I can.
Here comes the first group of kids to be dismissed from the bus. Deep breath. Fun teacher-themed mask on. Hand sanitizer loaded. Thermometer ready. Smile with your eyes. Smile with your eyes.
Time to get off the bus! I don’t know where to go, but a teacher helps me find my class. Teacher has a mask with smiling apples! I say, “I like your mask!” I think she’s smiling, but it’s hard to tell. I try to go in my classroom, but she tells me to stop and stand still and temperatures my forehead. She says “Looks good!” and I want to go inside, but she says first I have to use the hanitizer. I use the hanitizer and go inside. There’s tables and chairs and even a whiteboard. There is already like a lot of kids in here, so I need to watch where I am walking. Another boy comes up and says something, but I don’t understand him, so he takes off his mask to tell me his name. A girl yells at him and teacher finishes another temperature and then tells Boy to keep his mask on and Girl not to yell. My older sister told me there would be lots of books and a place to play dress-up and beanbags and puppets in kindergarten, but I don’t see any of that stuff. Maybe the teacher hided it for a surprise. Teacher is telling me to hang up my backpack and find my seat. I want to ask her to help me find my name tag, but I am shy and also she is still busy at the door taking temperatures and passing out hanitizer.
Already one mask off and they aren’t even all in the door yet! Deep breath. Crap, the thermometer says 99.8 on this one. Should I double check? That’s not high enough to go straight to the quarantine room, but should I send him to the nurse? He knows I’m hesitating and he’s looking at me with these big scared eyes and all I want to do is welcome him into his classroom, but what if I am exposing the other children?
I think all my friends are here now. It took a very, very, very, very long time, but now all the seats are full. I finished my coloring a long time ago, but Teacher said we had to stay in our seats and wait. I was going to add a blue sky to my picture, but I didn’t have a SPECIAL blue in my crayon box like the boy next to me. I asked him if I could use his blue, but Teacher said we can’t share crayons, ’cause germs.
The kids are finally all in their seats and we are three minutes late for our first scheduled bathroom break and handwashing. We have to go while it is our turn to be in the hallway so we don’t run into another class, but I haven’t even gotten to talk to the children about how to walk in line (four tiles behind the person in front of you) or how to not talk in the hallway, or how to wait their turn for the bathroom, or how to walk carefully in the bathroom, and always flush the school potties, and wash their hands properly (sing the “Wash Your Hands” song). I also haven’t gotten to welcome them to my classroom or remind them of my name or let them introduce themselves to each other. Okay, you can do this, one thing at a time.
Man, school has a lot of rules and everything takes a really, really, really, really long time. Teacher has to call on us one at a time to line up and remind us not to get too close to the person in front of us, but we can’t spread out too much or our line doesn’t fit in the classroom. We have to wait our turn for the bathroom, because we can only go in there with two friends at a time. It gets boring waiting and waiting and waiting all day, but Teacher keeps telling us we are doing a good job. Teacher has to remind a lot of kids to keep their mask on and keep their hands to themselves and not to move their mask down to pick their nose, but she doesn’t have to remind me even once. One boy asked when we get to have fun and Teacher said kindergarten is going to be a lot of fun, but I don’t know if she meant it.
The day is going quickly, but I feel like all we have done is take bathroom breaks, wash hands and go over health rules. This doesn’t feel like teaching. Time for lunch. Deep breath.
I ate my first big kid lunch in a cafeteria! I waited a long time in line, but, it’s okay, I know school has lots of lines. I wanted to pick out a seat next to the boy with the Ninja Turtle mask, but Teacher said we couldn’t sit too close to eat and helped me find another seat. We got to take off our masks to eat, which was good because my ears hurt!
Okay, we made it out of the cafeteria alive and only one kid accidentally threw their mask in the trash can. I’ll have to call the nurse and see if she has an extra. The other kids are already giving dirty looks to the kid without a mask. How do I explain to five year olds that we need to wear our masks, and help others remember to wear their masks, and tell the teacher if someone isn’t wearing their mask, but also be reasonable and polite about it. Another one spilled milk on her mask, but she has an extra in her backpack. Note to self- think of solutions for where kids can put masks to keep them clean and safe while eating lunch.
After lunch we get to go outside and play FINALLY. There is a big, huge jungle gym with TWO TWISTY SLIDES and a pirate on top, but we were NOT EVEN allowed to play there. Teacher said we could play kickball together, but I didn’t know how to play. I guess a lot of my friends didn’t either, because Teacher had to keep telling us the rules. And she also had to keep spraying the ball with her Teacher Spray after every turn. I asked if we can just play tag, because everyone knows tag. Teacher said that is a great idea ‘cept we are not allowed to touch each other.
I’m hot. I’m tired. I’m Lysoling a kickball. At least the kids are getting to play.
I heard a girl cough. I should probably not get too close to her germs.
Did she just cough? Is that twice she has coughed today or three times? Does she look a bit peckish? It’s hard to tell because we just met today. Should I send her to the nurse?
School is a really long day. Mommy asks if I made any friends. I told her I liked the boy with the Ninja Turtle mask, but he doesn’t sit near my ‘signed seat so we didn’t talk a lot. I didn’t learn to read today, but maybe we will tomorrow.
Okay, we made it through Day 1. While I disinfect the tables and classroom, I reflect- Did I keep them safe enough? Did I keep myself safe enough? I tried to quickly correct them every time I saw them touching each other or their faces or playing with their masks. Was I quick enough? Should I have sent her to the nurse? Did they have fun? Do they like school? Will they want to come back tomorrow? I tried to make it fun. I tried to make everything a game.
Did they like my mask? Did I wear it well?