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Open Letter to the Community- Hi from the Hood

Hello There MCS Community!

This is Gracie, that weird Toddler Dept. teacher who wears the big hood. I just wanted to pop by and say 'Hi from inside the hood!' Your wonderful kids have all been pretty curious about my hood and I'm happy to talk about it with all of you. My hood is a compromise. My family had reservations about me returning to in-person teaching during the pandemic, but not coming back to MCS just wasn't an option for me. I love my job. I love my coworkers. I love your kids. 

My bubble, my immediate family, are all in high risk groups for Covid-19. My parents, who I live with, are in their 60's. My sister has a congenital defect of her respiratory system which makes Covid a death sentence, and her husband, my sweet brother-in-law, has been battling Stage 4 esophageal cancer for a little over a year now. Because of the greater risk to the members of my family, we worked out a deal; I could return to work, but would have to take some pretty extreme precautions. Those of you in the medical field are probably doing most of these too. 

My daily routine when returning home is this:

  1. Remove my shoes on the back porch and put them in a Tupperware. (I don't want to be surprised by a sheltering spider in the morning!)
  2. Undress in our mudroom and put my scrubs and hood in a sheet. I then put on a robe and take all of my clothing bundled in the sheet to the washing machine.
  3. Wipe off everything that went to school with me with alcohol. 
  4. Take a shower. 
  5. Make sure my scrubs and ppe are ready for the next day. 

That part isn't so bad. I'm used to it now, but life in the hood isn't much fun. Its basically a sauna for your head. A sauna of your own breath. But hey, it's a pandemic better my own breath than anyone else's, right?! It's stuffy and my screen fogs up all the time and I have to put dish soap on it to keep it clear. I also have to wear a scarf over my hair or the hood rubs on my head and I have big knots and matted spots when I get home. It's not ideal, and it's not maybe even significantly more effective than just a mask and a face shield; but that's not really what it's all about is it? It's about my compromise, and my promise to my family to do whatever it takes to keep them safe. 

I know there are so many new inconveniences in life, so many more worries and things to keep us up at night; but we're in it together. I wouldn't have returned to work if I worked anywhere else, but I feel a tremendous amount of trust in our community. This is a feeling of safety and trust I can not feel in wider world at the moment, so I am tremendously grateful for it. Here I see us all doing our part everyday to keep each other safe. Maybe my hood is silly, it certainly has made me take myself less seriously, and be a bit less vain. I mean, who cares if you're wearing makeup or did your hair in your spacesuit anyway? 

My students mostly cannot wear masks, and even before Covid they were not great at catching sneezes and coughs in the crook of their arms. Toddler teachers are accustomed to the fine spray of a sneeze misting lightly over us like summer dew. You name it, and I can guarantee a toddler teacher has definitely had it on their person at some point. You've all been forewarned we're terrible dinner party guests, and don't ask about our day unless you have a strong stomach. But we don't mind. We really don't. We love what we do, and we love your children. But they can't protect us, so you have to. Please be willing to get covid testing, even for toddlers, when it is prudent to do so. When a student has a symptom of Covid, we worry. We worry that we held them too close to our face when we picked them up after they scraped their knee. We worry about that time we bent down to hear their story and they sneezed right into our face. We worry that we're going to get sick, and that we might get the people we love sick. Every-time a student goes home sick I start a self quarantine at home because the risk for me is too high not to. My world is much smaller now; I only see my immediate family and MCS family in person. For now that is enough, and I feel blessed to have you all; but it would hurt all the more if even one person from that short list was gone. Please be safe. Please keep your promises. Please be willing to keep us safe.

With Fond Regards, 

Gracie Reitz

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