So, now what?

We are “fully” vaccinated, now what? The newest CDC guidelines say I am free to go maskless and our self-isolation can end.

Do I want to? Should I? And why wouldn’t I continue to wash my hands as a disease prevention method? I love (sarcasm!) how the guidelines mention safety precautions are masks, social distancing of 6 feet, and wash your hands.

Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People | CDC

I am still required to wear a mask at work since the 12-14 year old students on campus aren’t vaccinated and my district doesn’t want to make a change with 2 weeks left. Even if the students get their shot today, it will be mid-June before they are completely vaccinated and our last day on campus for this year is May 28.

Will many of the 12-16 year old students even get vaccinated? How many have younger siblings who won’t be able to get vaccinated? Will be see a weird “spike” in pediatric cases? How many anti-vaccinating people will stop wearing their masks now? How many are teachers I work with? There are even more unanswerable questions rolling around in my head regarding pandemic safety in my classroom.

So I guess my “now what?” answer is this – I will continue to wear a mask IF I go somewhere that I am unable to know the vaccination status of those around me. It’s not like I’m rushing to go do things.

I don’t miss shopping or eating out in restaurants. I really don’t miss going grocery shopping – the idea of ordering ahead and picking it up is so much easier!

I do miss the social aspect of eating out. Tomorrow we are going out to breakfast with friends – first time in forever (well, actually 11 months but who’s keeping track!) Our usual Sunday morning location has had outdoor dining since our last visit (June 2020). To say I was not comfortable is a vast understatement.

Will they maintain outdoor dining for a while? Will the employees be wearing masks? Will the wind blow in the right direction? These and so many more whirl through my head!

Hopefully my “stranger danger” will gradually subside and I can venture out into the world again without a heightened since of doom with every breath.

Another Major COVID Lockdown

Southern California is moving into a 3 week major lockdown. Did we ever really stop our lockdown from March? Technically – NO.

How does this new lockdown change our current life – not at all! We are now on day 268 of self-quarantine/isolation.

As a family, we are observing the restrictions as much as possible – staying home except for “essential” trips, wearing masks, and social distancing. Kiddo #2 removes all clothing in the garage, sanitizes her phones, sanitizes her hands, and then goes straight to the shower when she gets home from work. If we venture out, mask and shirts are removed in the garage and hand sanitizer used before we touch the door to come in.

It helps that we are both working from home and basically only leave for perishable groceries, with few exceptions. Everything else gets ordered online and is delivered or curbside pickup (restaurants). Our food out budget used to be more than I’m willing to admit to and since March, we are averaging about $100 per month. It’s just not worth the risk.

A little California COVID information: Lockdown orders were modified in late August and tiers for each county were developed. Our county started in the “Purple” tier, moved to the “Red” tier for 2 weeks in October and back to “Purple” for every week since. Here’s a link if you’re interested in business details for each tier.

These 39 California counties just moved back to stricter COVID tiers

The new criteria added last week looks at the percent of ICU beds available in each state region. Here is a map showing all the counties, their current tier color, and which region they belong to. A more restrictive lockdown than the tier lockdown is ordered if the region has less than 15% of ICU beds available. When enacted on Thursday (Dec 3), all regions were above 15%. This morning Southern California and San Joaquin Valley regions dropped to 10.3% and 6.6% respectively. The order basically mandates everyone stay home and only interact with members of your household. It also adds further restrictions to businesses. Here’s a link if you want to learn more.

Restricciones por la COVID-19 - Coronavirus COVID-19 Response

Day 61 of Isolation – Student Loans & College

All of our Parent Plus Loans are paid in full!!

Because of the pandemic, all federally backed student loans (and Parent Plus Loans) have been modified to a ZERO percent interest rate for 6 months.  Since we are not spending as much as usual, we had enough left over in April to make a final payment on the last student/parent loan for Kiddo #2.  We received the official Paid In Full notice today!!  Talk about excited!  Our kids college experiences are finally paid for!

How will this pandemic affect the next group of college students?  What about this generation of people?  Will college going rates change because of this?

The California State University System announced today that Fall 2020 classes will be online with a few exceptions.  It looks like certain “lab” based classes will occasionally meet.   8 of the campuses also moved their deadline for deposits from May 1st to June 1st.  It looks like the University of California system will be adopting something similar.

As a parent, would I want my kiddo to move away?  Is it worth the money to go “away” to just have your courses online?  With the global financial uncertainty of the pandemic, is it worth the debt?  More people are saving and paying things off because of the uncertainty – more than in the last 40 years!

If this pandemic had happened in 2007, Kiddo #2 probably wouldn’t have gone to college on the east coast.  Heck, Kiddo #1 probably wouldn’t have gone 150 miles away.  There would have been serious discussions about staying close to home with the possibility of transferring.  We have a UC school about 10 miles away.  It was considered their “safety” school just in case something happened and they couldn’t go away.

How many students will be attending closer to home?  There is going to be a massive federal debt because of the pandemic.  What are the long term ramifications of this on their career prospects?

Day 59 & 60 of Isolation – John’s Data

John’s spread sheet tracks the number of infections and deaths worldwide – so far he follows 21 countries.  His metric is when a country hit 30,000 cases.

He also tracks the data for 30 states in the US – added when they hit 8000 cases.  He uses the Johns Hopkins website as his source.

As you can tell, we look at this pandemic is very different ways – he is big picture while I am more locally focused.

As you can tell, the US is a primary contributor to the world count of cases.  We haven’t reached the flat part of the curve yet.  Italy seems to have flattened.  Russia looks like it is having dramatic increases in cases, confirmed by news reports.

Capture 1Capture

Day 19 of Isolation

Well, it happened.  We aren’t going back to work for the rest of this school year.  All California schools are shut until June 19th.  Why that random date?  I think because by then all schools will be officially out.

So now we have a new challenge – holding office hours virtually!  We also can’t teach any new content.  This will make office hours interesting!  I’ll keep you updated with some of the things my darling middle school students talk about during office hours.

I was able to figure out why I couldn’t hear anything when I was on a Google Meet.  I have the extension “Disable HTML5 Autoplay” installed on Chrome.  After spending about an hour searching online for a solution, one person of many in a thread mentioned their autoplay blocker prevented them from hearing others.  Disabled mine and VOILA! I can hear!  It is so much easier than using the phone for audio and computer for video.  John and I tested it with him continually saying “can you hear me now?”  Just be sure to refresh for the change to take effect!

Another thing happening in California (our county) is the recommendation that everyone wear cloth masks IF they must leave home for essentials.  So today was figuring out which sheet and pillowcase I was going to cut up to make them.  I also am using a water repellent boat cover that we happened to have in the garage as part of the design.

Here is the pattern I’m using.  Kaiser Permanente has on online pattern and video tutorial for making masks.  Thank you Kaiser!

It was an eventful day!

Almost done cutting out the mask supplies. 



Arming Teachers??

Someone at a high level of our government actually thinks arming teachers and giving them bonuses will cut school shootings.  The “trained” person on campus in Parkland didn’t do a darn thing!!

We did not sign up to be the police, SWAT, or whatever other gun-carrying profession there is out there!

And bonuses????  REALLY?!?!?  We don’t have enough money to purchase basic supplies to run a classroom for a year (I get about $200 for the year to teach middle school science and this has to include any paper, pencils, markers, etc they need to use too;  John gets about $250 to teach high school science.)  Where is this money supposed to come from???  Further neglect the classroom because some teachers are willing to carry a concealed weapon to school every day???

Plastic is everywhere!

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised but I always am when we find evidence of  the damages plastics are doing to the environment.  They are impossible to avoid (heck, my keyboard is plastic!) but we need to make more conscious decisions about their use.

Below are an interesting set of articles published over the last couple of days by The Guardian about the discovery of plastics found in sea salt, tap water, and the unknown relationship to our health.  The articles also contain many links to others about the same or related topics.