The masks at school debate continues

While many schools across the nation are still virtual only, schools here in San Antonio have had the in-person option since September. And for those who don’t feel safe sending their students back to school (or simply refuse to have their students wear a mask) our school district also offers virtual school (in both synchronous and asynchronous options) as they try to accommodate everyone.

In order to be in-person, students and teachers must wear a mask and try to maintain social distancing. Hand sanitizer is encouraged, and deep cleanings happen daily.

At the beginning of March, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced he was lifting our state-wide mask mandate. Each business could decide for themselves if they want to require masks. The Texas Education Agency also decided that school districts could make their own decisions on the mask issue. Our district decided to keep requiring masks at the school as they had done for the past six months.

Actually, most businesses here have kept the mask mandate. In all the stores I’ve been in that are near my house, I always see people still wearing masks. Only when I was at a store by my parents’ house did I see a few unmasked people even though the store had a mask required sign at the door.

Many people still want the masks as the rate of vaccinating adults has been slow. Over our Spring break they opened it up to teachers and anyone over 50 years old. As of today (just two weeks later), anyone over 16 years old can get the vaccine. But there are still many older people and those with chronic conditions that haven’t been vaccinated or are still waiting for their second shot. And kids can’t be vaccinated so in my book I can see the district keeping the mask mandate through the end of this school year.

But then I received this email about a special district school board meeting on April 5 to discuss the district’s COVID protocols including mask wearing and end of the year activities. They claim no decision will be made; This is merely a presentation by district staff and medical experts as well as community feedback.

I’ve already sent them an email with my thoughts. I don’t know if masks work, but I know the students and teachers have done well with them and our COVID rates in the schools have been very low. I see no reason to change – even if the city is at an all time low with COVID cases. We have just 9 weeks left of school. I really do see no reason to change what has already been working.

As for the end of the year activities, this is harder. I hate that so many of them were cancelled last year and probably will be cancelled this year. Our kids look forward to these activities. And I think with modifications some of them – award ceremonies and graduations – can go on. But others – prom, 5th/8th/senior parties – probably are very hard to have with mask wearing and social distancing protocols in place and with the current no parent volunteers allowed on campus.

Now, anyone who reads my blog knows I am not overly worried about COVID. I’ve been to the beach, Disney World and pretty regularly eat out with friends and family. But I try to take into account what others think and feel. I know that many people have more concerns about COVID. Many teachers retired when the students went to in-person learning. I want to keep the teachers, staff and students safe. What we do next school year may be totally different, but knowing where we are now with vaccinations and how well our schools have done, I see no reason to change anything in the next 9 weeks. Only time will tell if the district agrees.

A psych eval and being the tallest woman in the family

Lexie turned thirteen a few weeks ago. Yep, I now have two teenagers. And with each birthday, there comes a trip to the doctor for a well-check.

Lexie was happy to know there were no shots this time. Going to the doctor during COVID is always an interesting time. We checked in – from the car. Wearing our masks, we went to the room and answered some of the nurse’s questions before she and Lexie left to get her height and weight.

From the exam room where I waited, I could hear Lexie’s exclamation.

“Ha! I am now taller than my mom!”

Yep, she is officially half an inch taller than me. And that makes her taller than both her grandmas. It makes her the tallest woman our immediate family. She doesn’t want to count cousins, second cousins or great aunts. She is thrilled to be the tallest. And of course, in a family of fairly short women, she is hoping to get even taller.

After a quick physical, Lexie did speak to the doctor about reducing the strength of her ADHD medication. Right now, we only have her take the medication on school days. On vacations, summer and weekends, she doesn’t take it. She thinks she is more “herself” on those days. The doctor agreed she could try a lower dose for a month. If her ability to concentrate or her grades slip, we will be going back to the current dose.

That done, there was one thing left – a questionnaire that is given out at the thirteen-year-old check. It is to check their mental health. Are they sad all the time? Depressed? Suicidal? They are supposed to answer this questionnaire on their own. With Jase, I just answered any questions he had to be about the questions themselves. Lexie, on the other hand, wanted to go over the questions with me. And she agonized over each choice and fearing that some of her feelings were brought on by her medication. But there was no where to add any explanation. I told her that if they were concerned by her answers, I’m sure they would speak with her.

The nurse came in three times to see if she was done with the assessment. Finally, Lexie was satisfied with her answers. I’m sure if they are concerned, we will get a call but honestly, feeling moody or sad is quite normal. As long as those feelings aren’t consuming her, she will be just fine.

Of course, she will be. She is now the tallest woman in the family – at thirteen years old.

Time for another year of the #AtoZChallenge

It is the middle of March, and that mean April and the A to Z blogging challenge are right around the corner.

For those of you, who haven’t heard about it, the A to Z challenge is a challenge for bloggers to post every day in April (except Sundays). Every day (Monday through Saturday) is matched with a letter of the alphabet. On the first day, you write about a topic that begins with A, the next day B and so on.

Now the organizers suggest you come up with a theme to help you get through the challenge. My first year (2014), I didn’t pick a theme. The next year, I did a theme of TV shows followed by characters in 2016, antagonists in 2017, songs about magic in 2018, character flaws in 2019 and then comic strips in 2020.

The key is to pick something that you will be able to find something for each letter. There are some hard letters – Q, X and Z in particular.

As a fantasy author, I like to connect my topics to something related to writing (characters/antagonists) or fantasy (magic). I love cats, and this year, I was inspired by characters from my own books. In my fantasy trilogy, The Elemental, I created creatures that are basically telepathic cats called STACS. So when my husband suggested animal characters, I decided to take it a little further and just do cat characters – whether they are in books, film, TV or cartoons.

Those of you who want to know more about the challenge or to sign up, click here. And you can look for my A to Z challenge posts about cat characters beginning April 1st.