The First Day of Kindergarten During a Pandemic

My son started kindergarten yesterday, and although it wasn’t quite the first day of school I’d been imagining due to the COVID pandemic, it actually went really well.

first day of kindergarten

A Little Bit of Normal

We live close to school, so our day started with a bike ride, just like I’ve been imaging we’d do since we moved to our little beach town. There’s a great wide sidewalk all the way to the school. We even got to meet up with neighborhood friends and ride together. It was a great start to our day!

For a brief moment, it felt like it could be any time, any normal day. We ran into lots of friends and neighbors along the way. It was nice to see people out and everything felt a little more normal than it had in months.

Face Masks, Shields and Forehead Scanners

The giddy buzz of normalness wore off once we locked the bikes up and made our way to the front door. This is where we’d be dropping him off alone and my first day fantasy fizzled. I wanted to walk him to his class and see where he’d be spending the day. I wanted to hug him and tell him to be brave and make sure he knew where to go.

Instead we said goodbyes outside the front door and I watched him get his forehead scanned for fever and then ushered inside as I yelled, “He’s in Kindergarten! He doesn’t know where to go!”

I saw a lady ask him if he had a mask and he looked a little scared and said no. It seemed like all the kids had masks on except my son, who refused to keep his on. I didn’t bother with it because they said the kindergarteners would be given face shields and masks at school. But I felt a little ridiculous, being a mask maker, and I couldn’t get my own son to wear a mask.

Everything’s Going to be OK

I felt better when I saw them round-up a few more of the younger kids and give them an escort. And my son had a good friend with him so I think that made all the difference. It made it more exciting and less scary. For him at least. I still had a little gnawing anxiety that I was sending my son into the belly of some pandemic beast and wondering if he will be OK.

And you know what? He was. He said he had a great day and loves kindergarten. And I know it’s because he was with friends, both old and new. He really needed this. And so did I.

kindergarten face mask

And Now For Day Two

We are in the middle of Day Two as I’m writing this. I’m about to finish this post, shower, and then come back for a final edit. Then I’m going to catch up on some email and put away the laundry. And I’m going to be doing it all quietly, without anyone bugging me. I’ve dreamed of this day for the past several years, and it’s everything I imagined. I feel like I just got another piece of my life back. A piece of myself I’d given up to be absorbed by the demands of being a stay-at-home-mom.

I’m hoping it works out and the schools are able to function without the virus spreading and getting closed again. And I know that’s hoping for a lot. But that’s all I can do right now.

Hope, and wear a mask.

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