OKEECHOBEE — I’m sure I am not the only parent with a child I drive to school myself who has found themselves in a rush to get to work on time since the new COVID protocols have significantly extended the amount of time it takes to get our students dropped off on campus in the mornings. I would wager that many of you have found yourselves having to skip that morning coffee run to Dunkin Donuts due to this very issue.
My son is a third grader at one of the elementary schools in Okeechobee and like many others, I have found myself getting frustrated with the drop off line at the school every morning. Due to COVID-19, all the schools have had to implement temperature checks and masks – meaning, as soon as your child opens the car door every morning, their temperature is checked and must be within normal range and the child must be wearing a mask before being allowed on campus. While I’m sure we all understand the necessity for such protocol, it makes it no less frustrating for those of us that have to get to work.
Some of you may be thinking, “Well, why don’t you all drop your kids off earlier?” I must tell you that earlier isn’t really an option anymore. Before coronavirus, my son’s school allowed children on campus beginning at 7:30 a.m. Now they are not allowed on campus until 7:45 a.m., significantly reducing the amount of time allotted to get my son to school before I must be at work.
Some mornings the line moves so slowly, my son doesn’t get out of the car until after the bell rings at 8:10 a.m.
As frustrating as it can be, I do not blame the school for this new time-consuming process. I assure you that, just like us, they are doing the best they can with a situation they did not see coming. School faculty never imagined they would be out front every morning checking students’ temperatures. They were not allowed to hire new people to stand outside in the mornings and do this; they had to take on these extra responsibilities themselves, in addition to their usual responsibilities.
The question is, what can we do to make this process run a little more smoothly?
The main thing parents can do: Be ready!
Before I pull up to the drop-off every morning, I make sure my son has his mask on, a jacket on if necessary, and one hand on his backpack. That way as soon as they open that door and clear his temperature, he is ready to go. Small children are not the most speedy and efficient, so you must stay on top of them. Remind them. This is especially important for parents that drop off more than one child at the same school.
More times than I can count, the line has been held up further because children had to reach back into the car and get their masks, or their backpacks, or anything they may have forgotten to grab. It’s our job as parents to make sure they are prepared before getting to that point.
The school staff is doing the best they can with what has been presented to them. It’s frustrating for everyone but if we all do our own part to make this process run more quickly, we will be helping each other. Then maybe we can get back to our morning coffee runs without having to be late for work!