In August, I returned to my teaching job for the first time since we went into lockdown in March. The atmosphere is very different from the school culture I left in March. Our school is now “hybrid,” which means some of our students opted for all virtual learning and others are attending every other day. This combination makes for an interesting school day.
I teach on camera to students who are at home while I’m also teaching students in front of me. The kids in class will be at home the next day. My teaching duties have increased. I now sanitize desks and spray hands with sanitizer. I wear a mask. Some of us wear face shields. My principal has supplied us with protective gear.
I wonder if I will ever see some of my virtual kids in the flesh. At lunch, the school looks like a ghost town, and I wonder if students will ever come back. We know people who have had COVID; some have died from it. These are sad times, and I wonder how this time will be remembered in the history books. As of now, no vaccine exists. Even when one appears, many of us will still feel afraid; some won’t take the vaccine. My husband and I have agreed that many of the changes brought about by COVID will persist even after a vaccine. The Plexiglas separating us from others will remain. So will the reluctance to shake hands or to hug. We may hesitate to attend large gatherings.
I’d begun a pandemic novel during my school hiatus, but it was too raw at the time (late March). As of yet, there is no resolution to this tragedy. In any Shakespearean play, the flawed hero meets his sad end, but order is restored. The truly evil one receives a harsh punishment, and the truly noble character—sometimes a foil to the admirable but foiled hero—emerges as leader and victor. As of yet, we have no resolution. The final battle cry has not sounded. Will the bad guy receive his just punishment? Will the good guy survive and marry the girl? And what of the female protagonist? Will she save herself and those around her because of her heroic deeds? The plague has not ended. There is as of yet no final solution to this sad tale. As we teachers contemplate the future and what our teaching careers will be like, we writers are contemplating how to chronicle this era of uncertainty in our writing.