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A very long four day week ends with good news

September 18, 2021 pm30 11:46 pm

Saturday morning, 8AM, the email I don’t use for regular stuff dinged. I followed the link, and followed the result. Undetected. COVID test was negative. I am relieved, but without the energy to celebrate.

The three biggest crowds I have been in since March 13 2020 were this week, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, in school.

Friday, 3 PM, I slowly walked north, away from school. I had no energy left, but the stress! How could I not get tested and find out. The wait wasn’t too bad. The tests are easier than before – I remember my first nasopharyngeal swab with that huge stick at the drive-through in the Fordham University parking lot in July 2020. Yesterday was quick, and kind of tickled. And then I slowly wandered home, just stopping to pick up some take-out. No energy to cook.

Friday itself was a strange day. After only a three day week, with a one-day break (for those of us not observing yontif), you’d expect the day to feel light. And I do, in fact, have a lighter teaching load on Friday (comp time, programmer, unbalanced schedules with heavy and light days). But the exhaustion from earlier in the week had not dissipated. My conversations were slow; I avoided some. Union talk was a drag.

Thursday, a day off without obligation, should have been the perfect recovery. But one free day, when I hadn’t had time to plan anything, when mind and body were a mess, was like a drop of water on a fire.

Fire? Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. These were tough, tough teaching days.

It was good to be back in the classroom. Fantastic. No more Zoom. Never more Zoom. Please. Teaching, even with a mask, was teaching. What a pleasure. What a joy. But I was shot, one afternoon worse than the next. It was a blur. Every “normal” year the first days are tough on the body, it takes getting used to getting back in the swing.

But nothing as exhausting as the first three days of this year. Never. Last year, Zoom year, was brutal. Soul-crushingly brutal. But it sapped our energy and our souls, a bit at a time. September 13 – 15 were a tidal wave.

I read this on a NYC teachers’ group, where 600 agreed, and 500 left their own comments:

This type of exhausted is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. I’ve NEVER felt like this at the start of a school year. I constantly feel dehydrated and short of breath.. Anyone else feeling like this?

For some of them it was physical, the body. For many, the voice. In case you don’t know, tons of teachers lose their voices for a couple of days each fall. All that talking. But in the first three days? I think they were yelling to be heard through their masks and over the fake DoE purifiers. (Air cleaning – semi-fake. Noise – very real.)

But I think for most of us, it was the stress. Space is tight, and social distancing is an aspiration, not a fact. In some schools it is hopeless. In others it is possible to maintain, just not all the time. My school’s on the border in the classrooms. Maybe we are just ok at the 3′ – but I think we usually come close but fall short. But the hallways? Wow. And I’ve seen pictures from elsewhere – worse.

Stress. In 18 months I have never been around, not for 15 minutes, the number of people I am around at any class change in the school, or at dismissal, or before the first class. I feel the tension when I step into the building. It’s palpable. It drove me to a COVID test on Friday. It sucked out all the energy, every day.

I will learn to bear it. In my mind, I have to. And then I won’t be so tired.

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