The First Day of School: Will they like my mask?

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?

20 thoughts on “The First Day of School: Will they like my mask?

  1. I will probably dream this tonight. So accurate that I visualize this in my own classroom. Glad my county is starting school virtually in August.

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  2. I saw someone share your post on a Moms page I’m a part of. I want to thank you for your writing. It’s the exact scenario that’s played in my mind over and over. Every week, the state and our licensing representative gives us updates on what protocols will be. Wash the sink after EVERY CHILD USES. With 18 kids, washing hands for 90 seconds……everytime they touch their face, sneeze into their hand, touch the garbage. When did being a teacher turn into becoming a full time janitor and sanitation worker? How will I be able to teach when I can’t get closer than 3 feet to a kid? What am I going to do when they cry? How will I survive teaching in my classroom that has no air conditioner with a hardcore mask? My anxiety is through the roof. I haven’t been able to sleep. Teachers know parents medicate their kids if they’re not well….even before this we would get annoyed and pissed off. “I can’t get Johnny now….I’m in the city”. No answer with the emergency contacts. So kid waits in the office with my elderly Director until Mom is able to take the train and pick her kid up….hours later. I shutter to think about this happening in the age of COVID. My school is private but I really hope the public unions support teachers. Someone needs to hear our voice. Thank you for sharing yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. excellent real-life description of school. republicans want children in school so they can say everything is back to normal. no consideration of the reality of problems and danger to health and life. how can anybody vote for trump and any of his republican followers? how much abuse are you willing to take? see that you vote, and take as many others with you.as you can. CONGRATS TO LOIS, OUR TEACHER

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    1. Republicans…. this is to help the economy! No one wants to put children through this just for the sake of making their party look a certain way. It just so happens that he is a Republican President and he has to make the call. Parents can’t work if they have children that need them at home. If the parents can’t work then they can’t make money to support their family!

      This article breaks my heart for students, teachers, and parents! But to bring in Republican/Democratic issues is taking the focus off of the real problem!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is not your child’s job to risk their life or the lives of their loved ones to fix the economy!! And what does fix the economy mean? CEOs need more money in their portfolios? Give people the money they need to live on for 2 months and lock it all down! Its the only way to prevent thousands and thousands of more people from dying! Priorities, people, PRIORITIES!!

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    2. Pediatricians say children need to return to the classroom. This is especially true of many special ed students. They need the structure in their lives. Many families also depend on free and reduced priced meals. Caring about the children what a republican thing to do!

      Liked by 2 people

    3. AMERICANS should not be afraid of a virus. AMERICANS are not afraid of challenges and will make common sense choices when the government gets out of their way.
      It’s time to give school choice to all parents so they can have their children educated in a common sense way that fits what they deem best for their own child(ren).
      This is not a political issue and your attack on “Trump supporters” shows your bias.
      My granddaughter starts kindergarten this fall. Her parents want to send her to a private school where she will have a normal kindergarten experience, and not be scared of an invisible monster. They cannot afford private school tuition. This must change.

      Liked by 2 people

    4. This is NOT about Republicans!! Can’t PEOPLE just feel like their children would be better off back to school?? CHILDREN are suffering because they have been out of school for so long!! How much longer?? I understand the fear. I’m not 100% decided. But to blame Republicans shows what YOU are thinking about. And it’s NOT the children… Shame on YOU!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I honestly don’t know how they will do this. I am an adult and When i wear a mask I cough…and its worse if its hot. It makes it harder to breathe. Anyone that works all day in a mask is amazing. I feel for the teachers but mostly for the children. Some would be fine but those with any type of disability would not. I have a son who will be entering high school with anxiety. I see him tugging at his mask if he has to go into a store…all day in a classroom would be difficult for him. There are others who have sensory issues and could not wear a mask all day.

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  5. Such great writing, you make this chilling and deeply sad scenario come to life. I’m having discussions with my once-kindergartner now-college-sophomore about what the return-to-campus protocols might *really* look like – that’s for young adults and terrifying enough even so. Thank you for educating us in your posts!

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  6. This is so true, and so sad. I’m a kindergarten teacher. I will have 24 little ones when we go back in August. I’m scared, and I know they will be too. I’ve been making masks, hoping they will like my mask.

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  7. I cry every day about going back to school – I am so worried. I so want to be with my students, but your post is exactly what I foresee every day over the upcoming months – or until enough teachers get sick and we have to return to online learning. My daughter cries every night about wanting to stay home and do virtual learning, but as a teacher, I don’t have a choice about keeping her home. Other than quitting, I have no other option. But returning to work means that I can no longer see my elderly parents because my daughter and I will be at risk every day.

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  8. I would love to see the virtual learning “first day of school” experience version of this. For a kindergartner starting school for the first time they aren’t going to know any better and the mindset and positivity of all adults involved will ultimately drive their experiences. Staring at a screen of strangers they’ve never met before while their parents work full time jobs is not necessarily a great alternative. While some of this is absolutely true it’s highly dramatic. I’d love to see more of the “this stinks but this is how we can make it work mentality.”

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  9. Schools are NOT daycare centers. Schools function to educate children. We are experiencing a pandemic, clearly it is not wise to send children or teachers back to school. So, we wait, we virtually teach. The problem lies with our clear lack of daycare affordability. Maybe some corporations or businesses could open as a meeting place for students to work virtually? I’d prefer my student to live and miss meeting publicly if this is what is needed for our society to survive Covid. You are part of the bigger picture and must think to protect, nor endanger others.

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    1. Mrs…what is the physical proximity difference between school and daycare? Do you honestly think that the experience of the students and caregivers in daycare would be any different from what you read above?

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