April 13, 2021

S2:E7 Jill | Special Education, Pivoting in the Pandemic


Our guest this week is Jill, a compassionate & determined woman with a big heart and too many emotions for one person to contain. Her big heart led her to a position as an early childhood special education teacher in St. Louis, which has taught her a lot about herself: particularly that she's capable of pivoting on a dime to provide the education her students' need and protecting herself and other teachers in the process.  She says, "It goes without saying that all of the success with virtual and in person learning is because of my incredible teaching team; understanding parents and families; supportive admin; and of course, friends and family." This episode provides keen insight into the teaching world and is a testament that teachers are truly the backbone of the pandemic society, especially as their jobs become more complicated as the lines are blurred between teacher, health monitor, caregiver, and more. 

Transcript
Caroline Amos:

Hi, I'm Carolyn Amos.

Raymond McAnally:

And I'm Raymond McAnally.

Caroline Raymond:

And we are Fatigued (laughter)

Caroline Amos:

Jill it's so good to see you.

Jill:

It's good to see you guys.

Raymond McAnally:

I think the last time I saw you in person was probably our graduation from Nerinx Hall.

Jill:

I was thinking the exact same thing. And I was like that's really sad. But -

Caroline Amos:

I know, this would be this year, we would be coming up on our 10 year anniversary.

Jill:

Yeah

Caroline Amos:

And I highly doubt it's gonna happen because there's a pandemic happening.

Jill:

Yeah, I went to the five year and that was fun. It was just like, cool to see everybody. But I'm curious to see if this can be like a virtual something or other and I actually work with to Nerinx alum. So...

Caroline Amos:

No kidding! Oh, I love that.

Jill:

Yeah, two women that graduated much, you know, much before us, but -

Caroline Amos:

Oh, that's awesome. I love that. So Jill, you work with the most adorable children in the world?

Jill:

I like to think so. Yeah.

Caroline Amos:

What does it have been like being a teacher in the middle of a pandemic?

Jill:

Um, it's been interesting. Um, so I'll start from beginning. This time, actually, probably just close to a year from today was our last, you know, day in person. And we got an email during spring break that said, Hey, we're going to close this week right after spring break. So anticipate, you know, just getting emails, we're trying to figure out what's going on and how we're going to safely return. So those two weeks go by? And they're just like, yeah, nope, maybe we'll try in April. And so that they just kind of get getting pushed back. And like I told you -

Raymond McAnally:

I remember those days.

Jill:

Right? Like, I mean, you're just like, Oh, yeah, two weeks, and then we'll be back.

Caroline Amos:

Two weeks...

Jill:

No, I'm, no, it wasn't that way. So long story short, we had to do a lot of, well, like I said, it's a preschool Special Ed Preschool. So things changed dramatically. We were trying to figure out how we're going to get kids to attend virtually, because a lot of them don't really even attend. You know, in person, we're doing a lot of things to keep them engaged, we have, Oh, my gosh, I have more, more strategies to try to get kids just to pay attention to me, you know, throughout the day, whatever. So

Raymond McAnally:

And also, since it's, it's, you said special needs? So you're dealing with a much more varied not only learning style, but mobility issues, all sorts of different things on a regular basis. Is that Correct?

Jill:

Yes. So I work with kids with a range of abilities, you know, I have some who are less that they might be four years old, but they're functioning at two or maybe a year and a half or two years old. So I have some little guys with down syndrome, I have some who, you know, mobily are just trying to navigate that life, I have some kids that are really, you know, like very high functioning, and they're telling me everything and everything that they know, on a day to day basis. So the abilities go far and wide. I work with an amazing team of people. I have two other parents that I work with. I'm in addition to a speech pathologist, and occupational therapists and physical therapists.

Caroline Amos:

Oh, my God, that's excellent. You have so many great resources.

Raymond McAnally:

Oh wow what support, yeah.

Jill:

Yeah, it's amazing. So I'll with forgo, you know, saying that the districts that I work for I'm just to keep some, you know, privacy by Lee. So I work for one district, and I'm paired with another. So the partner district that we're paired in is actually in the same area that Caroline and I went to high school.

Caroline Amos:

Ah, I love that area.

Jill:

Yeah, right, that special place in St. Louis. And so it's, it's just been very interesting, I guess, to, to figure out how we're, yeah, like -

Raymond McAnally:

I'm curious how in the world you do it, because it sounds like even in on a regular class day, an in person class day, that room is divided. With different students getting attention from different teachers or specialists. How in the world do you then take that and put it online on zoom or something like that?

Jill:

Yeah, that those were the exact same questions we had. We didn't really know. Especially we have to think a lot about HIPAA laws, we have to think a lot about the privacy in general of our families and our kids. So we weren't even sure if we could use platforms like zoom. We weren't sure if we could use platforms like Google Hangouts. So all of these resources that other people have been able to use to kind of meet certain needs. We weren't sure if that was possible.

Raymond McAnally:

I had completely forgotten about - Wow.

Jill:

So it was pretty wild. And like I said, I'm probably one of the younger teachers at the school and especially within the the room that I work in. I'm considered an early childhood special ed teacher and I work in an early childhood, special education classroom and there's a variety have different kinds of classrooms, the one that I teach in specifically, is you can hold up to 12 kids, six of those spots are reserved for kids with IEP s, which are individual education programs. And then the other six spots are reserved for typically developing children. So kids that don't have to use these IEP s to meet their needs. So we were serving both general education and special education. The two women that I worked with at the time, they were both You know, they're both in their, like, 50s. And they're freaking out because they didn't have the technology at home.

Caroline Amos:

That's right, there's that technology divide there.

Jill:

Yep, there's that so we saw that divide immediately. I was kind of providing, like I said, kind of tech support throughout my week into the for these women, in addition to trying to figure out how we're going to meet services for kids. So IEPs are legal documents, I'm legally obligated to meet all these minutes for children, somehow. And DESS, which is the Department of Elementary and Secondary services they are they were not as flexible in the beginning of the pandemic on how we were going to meet those minutes.

Raymond McAnally:

Is that because they anticipated a return to normal? Or just completely caught off guard.

Jill:

I think they were totally caught off guard, and we're trying to navigate all of it. Yeah, I mean, because now they're in charge of all the teachers across the, you know,

Raymond McAnally:

That's a long spring break. across the state. So for a while, it was very panicked. It was very, you know, baptism by fire. I didn't start seeing kids, virtually, we were not approved to use zoom until maybe mid April, beginning to mid April.

Caroline Amos:

You missed, that's about a month of school.

Jill:

Yeah, we had Spring Break forever. It's like, we'd like to call it and it was, it was just like hard to wrap your mind around. And so we use a lot of different platforms, you know, for kids, and one of them was this program where we could actually have lesson plans. So we were able to go in, and we had to provide so many activities a day for kids to be able to do at home. So not only are we now coming up with these lesson plans, we're now expecting parents to follow through with these lessons and essentially become their child's teacher at home.

Caroline Amos:

Oh my god. And that's so unfair, because that's what that's why these poor parents are just trying to go out there and do their own jobs on top of a pandemic. And now there are so much is already expected of them. Oh, God, Jill.

Jill:

So the pressure is just I mean, the pressures is building, right? I mean, teachers feel pressure, you're dumping right onto parents, parents are coming back. They don't know what to do. So we I had a variety of different ways people participated. Some parents flat out told me, Look, we can't hit that we can't do this right now. Like, it's too much. Everything's too much. We'll check back in like, Can you just send an email once a week to check in? Yep, sure, no problem. other families were on every single zoom call, you know, I'd send a link and they were there and they would show up. And, you know, I'm singing into my computer at 8am. I'm singing Old MacDonald had a farm. (laughter)

Caroline Amos:

You might have to do that for us later (laughter)

Raymond McAnally:

You mentioned Connor loving that

Jill:

Connor loved. Oh my gosh, just the I mean, there were mornings he'd come out. And he'd be like, Why are you screaming? And I'm like, cuz I'm talking to the kids. I was like, this is actually my job. This is like, this is everyday for me. Like this is we're singing we're having fun. We're being goofy. And he's like, but it's 8am. I'm like, Yeah, dude, the rest of the world is functioning like we're, we're going we have to create some kind of structure. Yeah. Oh, thankfully, it wasn't like, three hours on zoom, trying to entertain kids, you know. So I kind of set it up to where everyone would be able to kind of jump in on calls as they were able. I'm also not allowed to be on a call by myself with a child because that is also you know, there, they can't consent there three, four, and five years old.

Raymond McAnally:

Because in the classroom you wouldn't be. You wouldn't be the only adult in the room.

Caroline Amos:

I would have never expected that particular law to translate over to zoom.

Jill:

Yes.

Caroline Amos:

Wow. That's amazing.

Jill:

Yeah. So we were, so I had to have at least another adult on the call with me at all times, if I were if we were with kids or families. So I would say that a majority of my time was spent with like, my two pairs. For the best. I love these women so much. They're like my second moms, and they're amazing. They did their best with zoom, but we were just like hanging out and the kid would pop on and we talk as much, you know, some of my kids are nonverbal. So a lot of the time I was being like, taken around the house, and you know, we're all like getting dizzy because we were in the bathroom. And now we're here, you know, like, we were just getting tours of people's houses. We were getting all kinds of good stuff. kids would come in like half naked. I mean, you name it. It was it was happening. Sounds like a blast. It was like hey, like I want like I want to do this looks great, like the other side of this. So there were there were very Really good points. And there were some really just bad days, you know, I mean, that that's teaching in general, there are some really good days, and there's some really bad days. Fortunately, we tried to make every day a good day some way, shape or form. So usually every day I would ever get off zoom, I would immediately like FaceTime my two parents, and we would just like chat and talk about we're like, oh, my God today sucked. You know, we just go on our rants about how bad the day was, whatever. But it was still nice knowing that our dynamic had never changed.

Raymond McAnally:

And you still have that support. You weren't siloed?

Jill:

Yes.

Raymond McAnally:

Trying to figure this out on your own. I always think about with the parent thing that we discussed a minute ago, like I my heart does go out why am I am gleefully not a parent. (laughter)

Jill:

Same.

Raymond McAnally:

My wife and I are joyously happy. And we have money for vacations. (laughter)

Caroline Amos:

A little anti-child advertising. (laughter)

Raymond McAnally:

Yeah, we're, we're, we're not even trying. That's our that's our, our catchphrase. I like

Jill:

to say I'm actively not trying. So yeah! (laughter)

Raymond McAnally:

there you go. But, but I have an uncle and I do love children. I love being around them. And, and like getting to know friends, kids. And this whole thing has reminded me of moments as an uncle or as a friend. To friends who have kids. were like, the parent has said something 1000 times. And because I swoop in on a weekend, hang out. And I'm fun. And I say it, they listen, and it makes a difference. And like it just how that I guess it goes back to that old saying, you know, it takes a village. That because these these kids right now are dealing more and more with just their parents. I mean, everybody's fried. Everybody's tired of hearing from the same people. And so I can only imagine how important that is, especially, especially when there are special considerations and needs, that there's more influence than just two caregivers at home. One caregiver at home or whoever that person is?

Jill:

Yes, it was. I have and I say this all the time. I have some of the best families, I have some of the most understanding patient. Just I love my families this year. Yeah, I love my families every year. I'm sure this is I say this every year, but I truly this year I am I give all the credit in the world to them. Because oh my gosh, I like I'm not a parent either. Right? So I'm only stressed out because I have a mountain of paperwork to do. I don't have a mountain of paperwork to do and take care of my kids, and then teach them and then try it, you know. And so I don't I don't blame any parent for ever skipping out on a zoom call. I don't ever blame a parent for never looking at the lessons that we sent. I think all you can give is great. Right? I mean, if you give it hopefully you can get it to. Unfortunately, before before the beginning of this year, we did lose two of our staff to COVID.

Caroline Amos:

like I'm so sorry. Like, completely lost?

Jill:

Yes. Yeah.

Caroline Amos:

I'm so sorry.

Jill:

It's okay. Um, it's been interesting to process as you can imagine, I mean, any loss is hard to process. The first we found out about our first staff member who had retired a year or two ago and her name is Miss Juanita. And Miss bonito was very loved and very, very appreciated around the school. And we found about out actually I found out about her passing through like a ksdk like post you know, on Facebook or sorry ksdk is just a news station in St. Louis. Yeah. And you know, like I saw you know, I see her face in this post and then I see the headline, I was super close with Listen, I was only there at the school one year the year that her last year teaching there and she was the classroom next door to mine but you know, always greeted all of my kids with a smile and always was always the most loving towards those kids and made everybody who walked into our classroom very welcome. So I cherish those parts of Miss Juanita and you know her spirit definitely lives on in our in our preschool. The second staff member that we lost, she was a current staff member so she was somebody that we saw day after day. We found out about her passing and the beginning of April her I want to say liking anniversary because that sounds like it's something positive but April 4 of 2020 was her last day with us here on Earth. Yeah, that one hit really hard. That that's still one that a lot of people are still processing. She Miss TC Miss TC was a ball of light. I don't want to say the name she was you know, she was just the light of the preschool. And you know, she always said be happy, Be kind, be happy, be kind and the kids would walk down the hall and be happy Be kind. I mean, this woman carried snacks in her pockets. The kids loved her.

Caroline Amos:

She sounds like a rock star.

Jill:

She's amazing. Yeah, truly amazing. So unfortunately, the last time that I got to see her was right before spring break. And I know that she was she either had pneumonia, she had another you know, it was an illness before she was hospitalized and COVID, you know, crept into her lungs, and

Caroline Amos:

COVID has no sympathy for any of that. Yeah, I'm so sorry, Joe.

Jill:

Thank you.

Caroline Amos:

That's also what, April 4 of last year, the pandemic was already so new and so fresh. And I think there's probably a handful of people out there in the world that have not experienced a direct death related to COVID. I imagine being one of the first people to lose someone close to you, who works in the same vicinity as you. But that was extremely alarming. And I can only imagine the panic that must be must have swept through all of you who have worked with her.

Jill:

Yeah, it was. It was really shocking, as you can imagine, because we all you know, people, I wasn't as close with her as some of the full day teachers that work at the building, where I got to eat lunch with her every day for like my second year that I worked in the you know, in the preschool, and like, that was the highlight of my day, because I knew she'd always have like, different fruits you always like should always have mangoes, she was always just like sharing when she had.

Raymond McAnally:

She had those pockets snacks too.

Jill:

Oh, and she, I mean, hello, who doesn't love a good pocket snack? And she's just Yeah, like I said, She's just the light. And we actually our director is an amazing, amazing woman who got a butter, it's a bench in the shape of a butterfly. And so now we have a bench dedicated to miss TC out on our playground that sits there so we can all you know, sit and it's actually it's in our butterfly garden. So it all works out my garden. Yeah, that's what we call it. That's so special. Butterflies come and go. We have a little herb garden and some other vegetables stuff going on.

Caroline Amos:

Can I be a student there? That sounds like a blast. Starting up again, this fall was very, very stressful experience for you.

Jill:

You got to see it all via social media.

Caroline Amos:

Oh, yeah, girl, I saw that. Now I'm curious. Do you are you comfortable going into detail about what happened and why it was so stressful for you?

Jill:

For sure. Some parts that? So let's see, where do I start? July, July is kind of where it all started unfolding. And where most of our questions kind of started popping up. So throughout the summer, we were just told to you know, keep an eye on email, keep an eye on these different things will be in contact. So it was late July when the first board meeting came around. And we were all very nervous because it was you know, as a closed meeting, only certain, you know, members of the community were invited, including our director. And at that point, our director had taken a poll from the staff just to see how comfortable we felt going in. And within that, within that discussion prior to this board meeting. I made it very clear that I was not comfortable that I did not want to be in these classrooms. And as much as I love these kids and would do anything for them. I do not want to be there because that's not safe. That's literally goes against everything that we've been doing for the last however many months.

Caroline Amos:

You already lost. You've already lost two people from it. So yeah, I totally understandable.

Jill:

Yes. So I think my exact words to all 35 staff members where I don't want to feel like a lab rat. I do not feel comfortable doing this. And, you know, everybody kind of shook their heads and my the director was like, Yeah, like I get it, you know, I get it. So then we had the board meeting and that first board meeting, they decided that they would revisit opening the preschool. So that was gonna be tabled until the next meeting, and the next meeting wasn't going to happen for a few weeks. Like two days later, we find out the board meeting has been moved up to the next like the following Tuesday. Okay, well, that was quick. That was a quick turnaround. Yeah. So we went into that, again, I'm just viewing this via, you know, YouTube or whatever the link was, and they're talking they're discussing or preschool and they're talking about us, like we don't exist, really, you know, I mean, they're talking about the logistics of how the preschool was, would run and, you know, the input from our director and, you know, the teacher input that we gave. And I'm like, on the other side, I'm like screaming, you know, I'm like, this is ridiculous. How are they making decisions on a place they've never even walked into? How are they making a decision for people they've never even met? And

Raymond McAnally:

Was the conversation about consideration for the students and not the faculty, or what was the conversation?

Jill:

Yea. It was between how, like, what the capacity would be for the preschool? So would we function at 50%? You know, 30%? Like, what, how many kids would be in each classroom? How would we even do social distance?

Raymond McAnally:

Yeah, because that kind of begs the assumption we are opening, it's just a matter of, in what capacity,

Jill:

Right. So all in all, the board came to us decide that we were definitely going to be in person 100% of the time, at 50% capacity.

Caroline Amos:

And that that, did you feel like you were like, you know, dispensable?

Jill:

100%?

Caroline Amos:

Like, it's it's almost as if they it's like, Okay, well, we'll lose a couple more along the way. But it doesn't matter. Yeah, there's more people behind. Yeah.

Raymond McAnally:

And I remember seeing a lot of that, around the reopening in the fall. These discussions seemed to be it's kind of why I asked the question, sorry, if it was leading, but the the fact that the consideration was about the students, but not about that there needed to be a human being who now has to play some sort of Health Department official role, along with teaching along with, I mean, I remember faculty from I've friends who teach from your, your position all the way to ages, you know, in grad school, and stuff like that. And there, they were, like, I now have to do twice the work because I have to come up with lesson plans for the students in person and the students at home. And nobody's offering me any more money. And I have to put my health at risk.

Jill:

Right, like, do you feel your blood boiling?

Caroline Amos:

Yeah, did they? How did they? Did they make any effort to make you feel like you were safe?

Jill:

So not until we were really in the building? So we push back the start date for kids, for teachers, we started the normal time that we would have normally we know, we went into the building a week early. The kids didn't start until a week later. And I remember like walking in, I mean, like I said, Caroline, you kind of saw this all unfold via social media for me. And, I mean, I panicked, you know, as soon as that as soon as that call, as soon as the decision was made, that we were going to be 100% in person, you know, 50% capacity. My my, my stomach dropped, my mind raced and I went into full on panic mode. I work in a district that is very well off, you know, like it is, it has really good resources, and never did I think that I'd have to providing my own PPE, or things like that, just to be in the school.

Raymond McAnally:

Did you have to?

Jill:

That's what I thought, because we weren't really sure. I just I panicked, like I said, and I just started, I started filling up an Amazon wishlist. Like, it was my job. I dumped everything. I mean, I was putting doubles of things in there in case you know, kids, we couldn't share materials. I was putting hands I mean, gallons of hand sanitizer, and their plexiglass. You name it. It was on the Amazon wishlist Caroline, thank you again, for your donation.

Caroline Amos:

Oh, god, it's really my pleasure.

Jill:

Like, I mean, within minutes, though, people had filled it up. I mean, people had taken everything, and I had packages arriving on my door, within four or five days of that.

Caroline Amos:

Well, we care a lot about you, and we want to make sure that you get out of this thing intact.

Jill:

Yes. So and, and I think that right there, that was like my first like, Oh, my God, people care, you know, like, people really care. And people don't want to really teach us to be there either. Like, you know, like, my friends. A lot of my friends don't have kids right now. But they can see how this is ridiculous putting, you know, teachers in this position. So like you said, Raymond, I was kind of feeling all those same things. Okay, well, now I'm a teacher, I'm health care or something or other, I have to you know, the pile just kept adding on, I wasn't getting paid anymore. I wasn't, you know, being offered any more benefits.

Raymond McAnally:

And you're kind of touching on, you know, when we do these interviews, and I'm and I look at the news, I'm constantly reminded, having to remind myself that all of these things can be bad situations simultaneously. It can be horrible that the kids aren't able to go back to school. And it can also be horrible that teachers have to expose themselves, right. And it can be horrible for the parents and it could be just all around, be a shitty situation for everybody. And we're all right and being like, this isn't this isn't the way to do it. But it doesn't change the fact that that it's a Bad idea to open back up. It's a bad idea. You know, I just thinking back to last August and September after watching the summer number spikes, and everything I can't imagine I, I would have probably destroyed my TV watching that.

Jill:

Yeah, I think I drank a bottle of wine immediately after. And you know

Caroline Amos:

I don't blame you at all (laughter).

Raymond McAnally:

After every class you taught? (laughter)

Jill:

Exactly. I mean, at that point, holy cow. Actually, thankfully, thankfully, I guess my drinking really didn't increase or decrease it kind of stayed mid level.

Raymond McAnally:

Oh, you were already there. (laughter) already at a high volume of consumption.

Jill:

I was. Like I said, especially in grade school. It's a good time. But it will make you want to rip your hair out.

Raymond McAnally:

Hey that Old MacDonald isn't gonna sing itself.

Jill:

So yeah, those first few days, I was just very angry being back. I wasn't, I wasn't angry at my coworkers. I wasn't angry at my director. I wasn't even angry with my direct supervisor with the districts that I work for. And it was just a lot of I just felt very hurt, I guess is the best way to describe it. And no, in no way do I think my situation is unique. In no way do I think that, you know, what I went through is, it was so horrible. I mean, because I'll be honest, I've had a pretty good, you know, like, I'm a healthy 28 year old woman. I, you know, I work, like I said, in a district that provides just about anything I work for. And I'm partnered with districts that are very caring and very supportive. So I think people get way worse than I did. I just love to be vocal about my complaints.

Caroline Amos:

So just because someone is having a worse than you, it doesn't negate the fact that you are also going through a hard and stressful time. You know, I think it's really easy to get stuck in this mindset and a pandemic, like, you know, you could get COVID and be really, really sick. But you can think to yourself, Well, I was on a ventilator, so I really didn't have it that bad. But meanwhile it doesn't. You still we're all still collectively going through a traumatic event, and that we're not going to get over it anytime soon. And you know, whether or not you had a better than someone else, no one is walking out of this unscathed. So, yeah, I

Raymond McAnally:

Stress, fear, emotions. Yeah, all that stuff is so relative, you know, like, it's not it's not a game where the person who has it worse is the only one who gets to feel bad. Yeah. But I did want to cover you mentioned that your district. So you opened up in the fall, and then but you've had a very good, at least at your school, you had a success rate. That was very good.

Jill:

So by this, I think it was up until like November, we had finally had our first positive case in the school.

Raymond McAnally:

Not until November?

Jill:

Not until November.

Caroline Amos:

Yeah, that's great.

Jill:

It's incredible. Yeah. Especially because my third day there in person with kids. I was coming back from lunch. And I was told to get out of the building immediately. And I didn't know what was happening. And then I go out. And I see my one of the parents that I work with also outside of the building. And we're looking at you I was like, what's going on, and she said, I don't know, I was told that I had to get out immediately. So we're standing there, the director comes out. And she's very, you know, she's doing her job, she was very firm, very clear, and just was trying to figure out what was going on. So I had received then a phone call from HR from the district that I work for, and I have not yet received a phone call from the district that I'm paired with. So I get this phone call. And they're like, you've been exposed on this date, you need to leave the facility, you know, like immediately, blah, blah, blah. And I'm thinking when, like, so they're doing all this contact tracing, which amazing I am very thankful for. But it was very confusing. So myself and a co worker, were standing outside and we're wondering who exposed us first like we this is day three, like, every kid is wearing a mask. every adult is wearing a mask. How have we been exposed? We find out later that it was like a meeting that I had the Friday before. One of the women in this meeting, mind you, this meeting was outside. We were at least 10 feet apart from one another and we all had masks on. So like it was the safest outdoor meeting that we could have ever had. So we find out that one of the women in that group had tested positive and had COVID. Because we were the classroom that met with her, we were told we need to get out of the building immediate. I mean, my director looked at me and she said sit on the curb. And I was like, Okay, yeah, okay, you got it. Like I'll sit down right here.

Caroline Amos:

You can't stand like what?

Jill:

Because, as we're being told to sit, I'm coming back from lunch. So as we're being told to sit, all the cars are pulling up to drop the afternoon session off and she was more afraid of the parents can Seeing this all go down and then panicking, she was just essentially trying to create less panic among the community. That's fair, very fair. And like I said, I respect the hell out of this woman. I was very, it was very shocking to be talked to, like that.

Raymond McAnally:

Well you must if she says to sit on a curb like that and you did it. (laughter)

Caroline Amos:

It kind of sounds like you're about to be interrogated by the police. Like you sit, we're gonna handcuff you don't you move (laughter)

Raymond McAnally:

Or they were trying to get your aerosols, closer to the ground, you know, to make sure that when you did spray the virus, it was almost at street level.

Jill:

Yeah

Raymond McAnally:

I'm just kidding. I don't know. (laughs)

Caroline Amos:

Raymond, I'm so glad you didn't go into science. (laughter)

Jill:

It was very messy. In the beginning, it was very confusing about when I could come back to school when I couldn't. Turns out, they learned the how our meeting had happened, they learned that we were 10 feet apart wearing masks and outside. So that didn't warrant for a full, you know, like a full What am I talking solution? isolation? Yes, thank you. So I was okay to go back to work the next day, they had been like, yep, you're good, no big deal.

Caroline Amos:

All that stress, only to be able to go back into work the next day, I mean, that is so all the panic and the tension is so high. It's pretty wild, you know,

Jill:

I don't get to talk to parents, like I used to, I don't get to, you know, like, have that same interaction. It's just feels very disconnected. There's a lot, a lot of our families, you know, some were furloughed, some lost jobs, some, you know, some had their jobs, but they were still required to go in, or they are working from home, but they work this high pressure job. And it's really hard to now be with their kid. Because our preschool is only functioning at 50% capacity, or is functioning at 50% capacity. my classroom, there was only seeing, I could only accept six kids. And by law, those six kids have to be the kids with IEP s. So that's right. Yes, yeah. So that's like a whole new added thing, right? Because all of our kids are required to wear masks. And you know, who don't like to wear masks are kids that are functioning around two years old, and he don't even have like the motor mouth control to keep their mouth closed, and essentially, are just getting their masks soaking wet. All day, I changed masks probably four or five times a day in the morning, like in my morning class, because they're what we refer to as early learners. And so they're just all little guys who are developmentally delayed by maybe a year or so. And one of my guys doesn't even wear a mask, because I physically cannot put it on him. He will not he, he can't tolerate it. And who am I to say he can't come in the building. So now we're running into this problem. Because if the if our our policy for the preschool is to everyone, every child has to wear a mask. But I have a kid who I have to serve minutes for mandated by the state who doesn't wear a mask? Who's out of compliance? How do we deny kids access to free and public education? Do you know how many of my little friends love to be the mask police because it's all of them. They all I mean, like, I let you know, like I'll step out of the room and I'll pull it off to take a drink of water or coffee or whatever. And I have like four kids are like, mask on? Oh my god, like I just need a drink of water.

Caroline Amos:

I love them. Let's put them in charge!

Jill:

honestly. (laughter) And these kids are kind of scary sometimes. No, but like, it's things like that. So I have really like my older guys in the afternoon. They're also great. I mean, the first day, they're like, hey, this chill, like, there's germs. And I'm like, oh, there's germs. They're like COVID is bad. I'm like, Oh, it's so bad. And you know, and like they'll wash their hands up to be like, no germs. And I'm like, no germs. Like we're having a party here. And so -

Raymond McAnally:

And then they lick their palm. (Laughter)

Jill:

Yeah, I'm like Miss Jill come here, let me lick your face.

Caroline Amos:

Do you have any other really funny kids stories that you can share? Because I'm living for these? Oh, my God, Carolyn, I

Jill:

have so many. The first story is we were reading this book about different kinds of families. And all that, you know, with, there's adoption. There's, you know, there's

Caroline Amos:

Oh, oh, my god. people that have two moms, people that have two dads that you know, it goes through all these different kinds. But yeah, it's a really great book. And they're the characters in this book that we're all animals. And so the one about the page about adoption, where two sheep. And the child they adopted with a wolf. Okay. So I'm reading this and I'm like, Oh, so I start inquiring. I was like, Whoa, does anybody know what adoption is? And they're like, No, I've never heard of that. And so we kind of like briefly talk what adoption means and you know what that could look like? And one of my this little guy is like, looking at me, he's pretty worried and he's like, Miss Jill. I'm like, what's wrong? He's like, Is he gonna eat his parents when he grows up? (laughter)

Jill:

I hope not. And I now I have like a whole audience of adults because we have So many adults in the room, and we're all like dying, laughing and like, I'm like, that would be a real tragedy if a parents. I hope he doesn't, I really hope he doesn't. Like Yeah, you me both kids. (laughter)

Caroline Amos:

Oh my god.

Jill:

A few days later, we're talking about it. We talk a lot about animals in preschool. And it was a stupid little like gift that I had showed the kids and it was this goat that slid down the slide and he the goat fell off. And I was like, Oh, no, like, who could he ask for help? And our speech language pathologist, she's hysterical. And she's like, he could ask Maa hhhhm And we're gonna we' e all laughing because she makes about noise. Yeah, this other ittle guy he looks at he goes, or he could ask hi

Caroline Amos:

You got to be careful that kid's gonna grow up to be a comedian or an actor Sunday. Yeah. Oh,

Jill:

my God, he if he's not already holy. Like, I look, it was like, you're a funny guy. Because I'm a funny guy. humble,

Caroline Amos:

humble. May we all have the confidence of a kid who's really good at cracking jokes. In spite of what's going on in the world, right now, I want to know what's giving you hope?

Jill:

Well, actually, I am so thrilled to be sharing this news with both of you. I received an email on Wednesday or Thursday, that the district will be paired with an organization to vaccinate teachers.

Caroline Amos:

Yes.

Jill:

We are, if not the first one of the first districts in St. Louis, to be getting vaccinated through our school district

Caroline Amos:

that makes me so I'm so happy for you. Congratulations. Thank you.

Jill:

I truly did not think this day was going to come for me because like I said, I'm a healthy 28 year old

Caroline Amos:

woman living my life in the universe seems to like never, ever take care of its teachers. So nice to hear that, like someone's stepping into making sure that you're getting the the safety you need.

Raymond McAnally:

Yes. And that it's going through the district.

Jill:

Yes. Right. That was actually the biggest piece of it all. We are paired with and I'm oh my gosh, now I can't remember the organization's name. But we're paired with an organization that typically administers flu shots to us every year. And so they up or administration or Superintendent worked, they worked their asses off for this to happen.

Caroline Amos:

Oh my gosh, I am so happy for you. Thank you gratulations job. Hey, this

Caroline Raymond:

This is Caroline and Raymond, thank you so much for listening to fatigued from patients to paramedics long haulers to lessons learned. Sure, it's the same virus but these are very different stories. If you have a question or a story you'd like us to address on an episode, please email us at fatigued podcast@gmail.com. That's fit igpu ed podcast@gmail.com. And don't forget to check us out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Clubhouse, Right clubhouse - What is that?

Caroline Amos:

I don't even know. But whatever it is, we're here to offer genuine conversation so we can humanize the issues surrounding COVID and the pandemic. These stories deserve the space to be remembered and we relish the opportunity for connection in this isolated time. Perhaps you will to stay positive, negative and thanks for listening.