Currently: In-Person Learning, A Dark Winter, Red at the Bone

October 25, 2020

Two Months of In-Person Learning

One week ago marked two months of in-person classes for my school. Thus far, school has felt surprisingly normal, though I think that is because everyone is simply getting more accustomed to adaptations resulting from the virus and the safety precautions of wearing masks and social distancing. Aside from one positive test at the beginning of the year, where a student was sent home to quarantine, and a potential case from a student experiencing symptoms that was deemed as negative after quickly being tested, my school has been very lucky to have not experienced any outbreak. Of course, it is not just luck. It is the result of the safety guidelines that the administration has implemented — including mask wearing, setting up classrooms that adhere to social distancing guidelines, and requiring students to record if they are experiencing symptoms before going to class each day — that has made the school year successful thus far.

Thanksgiving & a 'Dark Winter' Ahead

I currently have three weeks left of my fall term classes and then a short week of class from a unique set of courses offered to students only this year. Because cases are already beginning to rise and health experts have predicted for months that the fall and winter will bring a new surge in cases, my school is closing from November 19 to early January, and students will take virtual, one credit "Intensive" courses during the short period between Thanksgiving and Winter vacations. I chose to enroll in the course entitled Horse of a Different Color: an Epidemic with No Boundaries which focuses on the Heroin epidemic in the United States and around the world. 

Read the course description here: 

This intensive is a multi-faceted exploration into the history and effects of opioid use and abuse in the U.S. and abroad. We will consult professionals in many fields, such as first response, healthcare, counseling, and law enforcement to learn about how opioid use became an epidemic…the one that few are talking about. We hope to have visits from people who are firmly in recovery and who will share their journey with us. Peppered into the course will be readings (fiction and non-fiction), film (fiction and documentary), 20th and 21st-century music, and individual research. We will end with an upward swing toward changing perspectives and action plans.

I am excited for the holiday season ahead, but am of course worried about the warnings of the dark winter our country will experience in the upcoming months and saddened that festivities will look so different this year. It is upsetting to think that past Black Friday shopping traditions in the city and Christmas dinners comprised of family crowded around a long table eating stuffed mushrooms and fluffy manicotti will not happen this year, but I have to stop and remind myself of the much more tragic toll of the virus.

Red at the Bone, by Jacqueline Woodson

This year, my school adopted a new schedule due COVID-19. Rather than having five or six classes per trimester, students now only have two classes that are longer in length and much faster paced. This term, I am taking Calculus and a course entitled 'Write Your Novel.' As a part of the latter course, my teacher encouraged us to pick out a couple of books to read to help us in our own writing process. I love to read, so I was thrilled that my teacher had us pick out books to read, especially since during the academic year it can sometimes be hard to read for pleasure amidst all of the assignments for classes. Because I am writing a multi-narrative story, I wanted to read a book that shared the same structure. I chose Red at the Bone, by Jacqueline Woodson, a book I have wanted to read for months. 

Red at the Bone will go down as one of my favorites. Woodson beautifully weaves together the past and present as she explores the relationship between two Black families whose lives become linked when their teenage daughter and son give birth to a baby girl, Melody. She delves into themes of race and class, of desire and motherhood, of identity and self-worth. Red at the Bone is one of those rare reads imbues you with a deep feeling of fullness and compassionate connection to each of the characters. For more information, check out this review by NPR.