Dear Reader, this past spring I was called “heroic and essential.” I don’t mean to brag; however, I was named “Teacher of the Year.” (OK perhaps e-v-e-r-y teacher in my home state of Indiana: A State That Works, being named “Teacher of the Year” might have taken a little prestige out of the award, but I was given a certificate nonetheless).
All summer long, we teachers waited with baited breath: what would school look like when we opened in August? And after just five minutes in my classroom with 25 desks and a yardstick, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to totally follow the CDC guidelines for reopening my classroom.
But that was OK, because I knew when the vaccines were distributed, I was in Group 1b. As a teacher, I was after health care professionals and the elderly residing in assisted living homes. I was a proud member of Group 1b: the essential workers. You know, grocery store clerks, delivery drivers, teachers, and tattoo artists here in Indiana: A State That Works.
Around the end of October when the CDC was begging people not to trick-or-treat, and well over half of my students went trick-or-treating, I told myself not to panic. After all, I was a 1b and my vaccine would soon be arriving.
About two weeks after trick-or-treating, a coincidence, I’m sure, when I spent the month of November teaching just half of my class, as students quarantined in and out like a bad merry-go-round ride, I remained calm. After all, I was a 1b, an essential worker in Indiana: A State That Works, and I just knew my state would soon be working for me.
The march from Thanksgiving to Christmas vacation was perilous indeed. Keeping in-person learning going continued to be my main focus, so even though many families in our community celebrated the holidays with their families, I told myself sacrificing my family gatherings would be well worth it, especially since the vaccines were just ready to roll out and I was a card-carrying member of the 1b Club.
After the weirdest and most isolated Christmas I’ve had in my 50 years on this earth, and being present for every day and every moment of the school year, this teacher was ready to go for the new year. I thought the best gift would be the 1b people receiving their vaccine. Instead, the gift I received was much different. The county in which I live and work became number one in Covid cases in the state of Indiana: A State That Works. That’s right, Dear Reader, my county was the gold medalist, and for much of January and February, we had the highest Covid positivity rate in the state, a working state, I might add. And as my son’s high school shut down in-person academics, but the extra curricular activities kept running because, after all, being number 1 takes extra effort and skill, I remained faithful because as a 1b member, my vaccine was coming. I did what any other 1b member would do. I purchased myself some KN95 masks, threw a second mask over my KN95 mask, and kept right on teaching because my vaccine was just around the corner.
We were days, mere days, we 1b-ers, from being able to sign up for the vaccine when lo and behold, Indiana: A State That Works, said, “The joke’s on you, 1b Club!” We essential workers were NOT going to be eligible for the promised vaccine.
Indiana: A State That Works isn’t sure when we essential workers will get the vaccine or when we will even be able to sign up. And let me tell you, the vaccine sign-up procedure for Indiana: A State That Works reminds me a lot of the game “Hide the Thimble” I used to play with my mom as a child. First of all, Dear Reader, please Google search “thimble” so you are in the know. Thank you. Now that you have a visual, please understand this archaic game absolutely delighted me as a six year old prancing around the house. (The stage was calling me, even then). My mom would hide the thimble while I was in a different room. Then she would call me out and I was a detective in search of the elusive thimble. To help me along she would give me verbal clues. If I was semi-close she would say, “Warm. . .getting warmer. . .hot!” When I heard, “Hot” I knew victory would soon be mine. But if I heard, “Cold,” I knew I needed to prance in a different direction.
All that to say, as a former member of the 1b Club, I am playing the most important game of “Hide the Thimble” of my life. And honestly, it feels as if Indiana: A State That Works, keeps shouting, “COLD! FRIGID! GOOD LUCK, LADY!”
No prancing is involved.
What is the date the teacher vaccine sign-up will be made available? Who knows?
What time of day or night will the teacher vaccine sign-up be made available? Who knows? Will it go live at 4:48 a.m., just moments before my alarm goes off? Who knows? Will it go live at 1:05 in the middle of a math lesson on fractions? Who knows? And what am I supposed to do when the sign up does go live? “Ummm students, I know your education is super important, believe me, I’ve sacrificed time with my family and friends for it for an entire year, but I’d honestly like to not die from teaching, so you all get on Study Island for the next five hours while I try to secure an elusive vaccine appointment.”
I would offer, as an employee of Indiana: A State That Works, that I would think the Department of Education would have all the info it would need to contact me directly to set up my vaccination. I mean, I’m sure they know my work email address since, well, it’s an Indiana: A State that Works-assigned-email-address! But alas, maybe there’s joy in playing a “Where’s Waldo” type-of-game now that I am no longer a 1b, now that I am not deemed so “heroic and essential.” And honestly, the message I’m really hearing is, “Shut up and teach!” Which is kind of funny, because that’s literally what I’ve been doing every day since we began in-person instruction on August 12, 2020 . . . until today, Dear Reader.
I hope this gave you a laugh, Dear Reader, like it did me. Goodness knows, we need one. Please feel free to share. Until the next Wednesday, the Lord allows.