I returned to work today after missing 3 days between last week and yesterday. On Tuesday, Odie was unceremoniously sent home from work with a fever. We all know what that means in these plague times. As sure as the day follows the night, a Covid test turned positive.
I caught Covid in late May during the Omicron surge. I spent 2 weeks sweating and aching in my dad’s spare room, and my husband and children never caught it. This time, both of my daughters caught it from their dad — Pringles on 10/13 and Viva on 10/15. We tried to mask and isolate from each other, but in our 1,025 square foot house that rents for a million dollars a month (or feels like it here in SoCal), there isn’t any realistic way to “isolate.” Me on the couch, Viva on the other couch, Pringles in her room, Odie in our room. Yet every other day, like clockwork, a positive test.
Except me. I guess my numerous boosters and recent infection protected me. Or just dumb luck. There’s really no way to know. For once, my grizzled, “Ach, everybody leave me alone!” paid off in a tangible way.
Returning to work after having a substitute is its own special kind of Hell. There’s the feigned innocence of the slackers: “Oh! I didn’t realize I was supposed to DO that detailed assignment you left. Can I turn it in tomorrow?” There’s also the brazen indifference of the insolent: “Yeah, I didn’t do it,” as well as the mendacity of the malcontents “The sub didn’t give me the assignment.”
That’s enough purple prose for one post.
I’m going to bitch for a moment. My union negotiated 10 days of Covid sick leave, but it doesn’t reset for the new school year. I had to take several days off to care for my kids and my husband while they were all in the first few miserable days of sniffling, coughing, and sweating, but I only got the 3 paid days that I didn’t take last year when I myself was sick. That’s some bullshit. I believe that as a public high school teacher, I should be afforded so much more consideration and compensation than I get. Yes, there are some crappy teachers out there (I know a few), but I’m not one of them. I’ve been in this business for 23 years, and it’s in a steep decline right now. Too many of my colleagues have stopped doing their best. Why pour in extra hours and extra effort when no amount of extra work earns us extra money? I fondly remember the early days of the pandemic when John Krazinski quipped on “Some Good News” that teachers should make a million dollars a year. I also remember a few months later when we were demonized for not wanting schools to reopen before a vaccine was available with no safety measures in place, followed closely by accusations that we were all pedophile groomers.
I was a star during distance learning. I pulled out my wigs and hats and costumes to make my lessons fun (I wore a Puritan cap for my entire unit on The Crucible). I offered grace and extensions to students suffering tech issues, anxiety attacks, and sick family members. In many ways, I bonded closer to those black Zoom boxes than I ever had to students before. We were trauma bonded. I took my computer out to my garden and showed them my tomatoes, peppers, and a hummingbird nest. They loved my impromptu lesson on vermicompost and squealed with disgusted delight as I showed them a handful of compost wriggling with worms.
I’m used to being called a “lazy” “Part-time” worker. However, trying to indoctrinate students to be communists is a full-time job that takes lots of energy. Something the screaming jerks at our school board meetings will never understand.
I had a post in the works about something else, but then life in the form of an infectious disease came crashing down on my (rented) house, so this is the post that pushed its way to the forefront. Just when my analyst is on vacation in Spain, damn it.
Odie is feeling well enough to care for the kids, and when I got home today from a hard day of work, my tween and teen greeted me with a sour and hearty, “Oh, man! Now we have to wear masks!” Welcome home, indeed.