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Member since: Sat Mar 11, 2017, 09:31 PM
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In November, we have one last shot to save America. #VoteForOurLives

Posted by Heartstrings | Wed Jul 8, 2020, 12:20 AM (0 replies)

Dane County issues mandatory mask requirements!

Posted by Heartstrings | Tue Jul 7, 2020, 02:07 PM (6 replies)

From a teacher friend....the last paragraph nails it!

I get it. I do. You need schools to open because...holy crap youíre not getting anything done, your kids need to see other kids, you have a job to do, and you just plain need a break. I get it. I do.

Iíve seen the research. Kids are, as much as we can determine barely six months into a pandemic, less likely to get it. Theyíre less likely to suffer from a severe form of the disease, possibly less likely to transmit it. The calls for opening schools with this data make total sense. Are you going to send your kids into a building with no adults? No. So when youíre out there demanding that schools open and all of your arguments are about you, about what you need, about what your kids need, but NEVER ONCE mention the dangers to the staff and faculty who will necessarily need to be in those schools, you can see where Iím a little concerned.

Iíve accepted that I ask my friends two or three times a year to donate food to our ďsnack closetĒ because ending poverty, let alone childhood poverty and all the many things that encompasses it, seems to be beyond us. Iíve accepted that I spend hundreds of dollars of my own money every year to buy things my students need because adequately funding schools seems to be beyond us. Iíve accepted that there might come a time I have to lock my students in the closet in my classroom - and let me tell you how blessed I feel that I have a closet big enough to fit all of my kids - because reasonable gun control seems to be beyond us.

Now youíre asking us to accept going back into classrooms in the middle of a pandemic. Classrooms that are located in buildings that have been neglected for decades (please see: adequate funding), that in some cases have no windows that open, where our support people - occupational therapists, speech therapists are working in closets (please see: adequate funding), and buildings that have sketchy HVAC on a good day.

Youíll forgive us if weíre not quite onboard with this idea yet. You see, if we want hand sanitizer in our classrooms, we have to ask parents to donate it. If we want Lysol wipes for our classrooms, we have to ask our parents to donate it. If we want tissues for snotty noses, we have to ask our parents to donate it. They do. Every year they do and many of them donate these things despite their precarious financial situations. I have no doubt that those parents would make these donations again - despite their much more precarious financial situation - if those things were available for purchase.

Since, for the entire two decades Iíve been teaching, weíve been asking parents to donate basic school supplies because we canít or wonít adequately fund education, you might see where weíre a little hesitant to go back into those classrooms without masks, without face shields, because masks donít work with the littlest kids (though face shields really arenít nearly as effective as masks, butÖ), without any promise of reliable, regular testing with a quick turnaround of results, without any plan for what happens when someone gets sick, without any plan for what staff and faculty do when someone in their family is sick, without any plan on how we help parents who need the childcare, so theyíre forced to give kids Tylenol in order to get through the temperature screening so they donít lose their job, without any promise of additional money to hire more teachers, to lease more space, to scale up what distance learning will or could look like. (Does anyone really think weíre going to make it through flu season without ending up right where we were in March?)

Do you know what schools look like once school starts? We are a snotty, sneezing, sniffly, coughing mess and that's without spike proteins invading our beings.

Iím worried for me. I have parents who are considered elderly (sorry about that, but you are). Parents I have only seen from a distance since early March, except for that super socially-distanced Fatherís Day. Iím worried for teachers who are parents - what will they do with their kids whose school schedules might be wildly different than that of their parents. Iím worried for the teachers who are older (and Iím REALLY sorry Iím considered one of them). But Iím more worried about our custodial staff, bus drivers, our cafeteria workers, our instructional assistants who are far more likely to be BIPOC, people who are far less likely to have the resources needed to survive an extended illness (again, not funding what matters), whose family members are more likely to be considered an essential worker in some other field.I donít see anyone having these conversations.

I donít see ANY consideration for the adults in school buildings in all the articles calling for schools to open. AAP is telling schools to open, but not giving any guidance on how to do so safely for students AND staff alike. That must be nice. You have to open and good luck on figuring out how to make that work. Weíre used to flying by the seat of our pants and making it work. This is a piss-poor solution most of the time and it is a completely untenable one in the middle of a pandemic, one that has been managed in the worst possible way at the federal level.

Iím worried for my kids. I know they need to be back at school. I saw how distance learning went this spring. It wasnít pretty. I know that our kids need teachers who arenít terrified to be at work because thereís nothing in place that would suggest society values teachers as more than cheap childcare, despite the fact that this spring and summer should have sounded that message loud and clear. I know our kids need to be around each other.

Iím worried that people are going to start calling for ďnormalĒ school. Nothing about this is normal. Even if kids are in school full time, nothing about this is going to be normal. Weíre going to be facing kids who are dealing with layer upon layer of trauma, we need to make time and space for that, so stop telling me kids are behind. Theyíre not any further behind than anyone else. Theyíre behind some arbitrary lines we drew in the sand so long ago weíre not sure we remember why we drew them. We need to meet our kids where they are. I don't want to hear one word about testing, unless it involves a nasal or throat swab. Not. One. Word.

The worst part about this is the completely cavalier attitude I see from far too many about doing what needs to be done if you have even half a prayer of opening schools this fall. Wear a mask. Stay home. No, you donít need to eat in that restaurant. No, you donít need to go visit your parents or friends 5 states away. No, you donít need to go hang out with your friends because youíll really stay 6 feet away - let me assure you that the pictures youíve posted show me that is almost never true. Yes. You need to wear a mask. Yes. You need to stay home unless itís really important. If you canít do any of those things, but want me to go back to school in August with a smile on my face, youíre asking me to make far bigger sacrifices than the ones youíve been willing to make so far.

The 4th of July Ball at the Overlook Hotel, 1921

You know what film this is from, right? Ok, without giving it away...leave a favorite moment or a bit of trivia about the film...remember donít give the title away!

Posted by Heartstrings | Sun Jul 5, 2020, 02:58 AM (8 replies)

I cannot watch this without tapping my foot...check it out!

Posted by Heartstrings | Wed Jul 1, 2020, 08:05 PM (4 replies)

Best damn synopsis of 2020 EVER (or at least for now...we still have 6 months left 😬😩🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️)!

Dear Diary 2020 Edition,

In January, Australia caught on fire. I donít even know if that fire was put out, because we straight up almost went to war with Iran. We might actually still be almost at war with them. I donít know, because Jen Aniston and Brad Pitt spoke to one another at an awards show and everyone flipped the f--- out, but then there was thing happening in China, then Prince Harry and Megan peaced out of the Royal family, and there was the whole impeachment trial, and then corona virus showed up in the US ďofficially,Ē but then Kobe died and UK peaced out of the European Union.

In February, Iowa crapped itself with the caucus results and the president was acquitted and the Speaker of the House took ten years to rip up a speech, but then WHO decided to give this virus a name COVID-19, which confused some really important people in charge of, like, our lives, into thinking there were 18 other versions before it, but then Harvey Weinstein was found guilty, and Americans started asking if Corona beer was safe to drink, and everyone on Facebook became a doctor who just knew the flu like killed way more people than COVID 1 through 18.

In March, shit hit the fan. Warren dropped out of the presidential race and Sanders was like Bernie or bust, but then Italy shut its whole ass down, and then COVID Not 1 through 18 officially become what everyone already realized, a pandemic and then a nationwide state of emergency was declared in US, but it didnít really change anything, so everyone was confused or thought it was still just a flu, but then COVID Not 18 was like yaíll not taking me seriously? Iím gonna infect the one celebrity everyone loves and totally infected Tom Hanks, but then the DOW took a shit on itself, and most of us still donít understand why the stock market is so important or even a thing (I still donít), but then we were all introduced to Tiger King. (Carol totally killed her husband), and Netflix was like youíre welcome, and we all realized there was no way we were washing our hands enough in the first place because all of our hands are now dry and gross.

In April, Bernie finally busted himself out of the presidential race, but then NYC became the set of The Walking Dead and we learned that no one has face masks, ventilators, or toilet paper, or THE FREAKING SWIFFER WET JET LIQUID, but then Kim Jong-Un died, but then he came back to lifeÖ or did he? Who knows, because then the Pentagon released videos of UFOs and nobody cared, and we were like man, itís only AprilÖ.

In May, the biblical end times kicked off historical locust swarms and then we learned of murder hornets and realized that 2020 was the start of the Hunger Games but people forgot to let us know, but then people legit protested lockdown measures with AR-15s, and then sports events were cancelled everywhere. But then people all over America finally reached a breaking point with race issues and violence. There were protests in every city, but then people forgot about the pandemic called COVID Not One Through 18. Media struggled with how to focus on two important things at once, but then people in general struggle to focus on more than one important thing, and a dead whale was found in the middle of the Amazon rain forest after monkeys stole COVID 1 Through 19 from a lab and ran off with them, and either in May or April (no one is keeping track of time now) that a giant asteroid narrowly missed Earth.

In June, science and common sense just got thrown straight out the window and somehow wearing masks became a political thing, but then a whole lot of people realized the south was actually the most unpatriotic thing ever and actually lost the civil war, and there are a large amount of people who feel that statues they donít even know the name of are needed for Ö history reasons..... but then everyone sort of remembered there was a pandemic, but then decided that not wearing a mask was somehow a God given right (still haven't found that part in the bible or even in the constitution), but then scientists announced they found a mysterious undiscovered mass at the center of the earth, and everyone was like DONíT YOU DARE TOUCH IT, but then everyone took a pause to realize that people actually believed Gone With The Wind was like non-fiction, but then it was also announced that there is a strange radio single coming from somewhere in the universe that repeats itself every so many days, and everyone was like DONíT YOU DARE ATTEMPT TO COMMUNICATE WITH IT, but then America reopened from the shut down that actually wasnít even a shut down, and so far, things have gone spectacularly not that great, but everyone is on Facebook arguing that masks kill because no one knows how breathing works, but then Florida was like hold my beer and let me show you how weíre number one in all things, including new Not Corona Beer Corona Virus. Trump decides now is a good time to ask the Supreme Court to shut down Obama Care because what better time to do so than in the middle of a pandemic, but then we learned there was a massive dust cloud coming straight at us from the Sahara Desert, which is totally normal, but this is 2020, so the ghost mummy thing is most likely in that dust cloud, but then I learned of meth-gators, and I'm like that is so not on my f-ing 2020 Bingo card, but then we learned that the Congo's worse ever Ebola outbreak is over, and we were all like, there was an Ebola outbreak that was the worse ever?

In JulyÖ. Aliens? Zeus? Asteroids? Artificial Intelligence becomes self aware?

Thanks to whoever started this for the copy and paste.
I have no idea who wrote this; and damn it, I want to know.
Also, why didn't I know about the whale in the Amazon?

Dane County issues tighter restrictions effective tomorrow

We go from 50% capacity down to 25% due to uptick in cases, thanks to all those who wonít wear a mask!

Posted by Heartstrings | Wed Jul 1, 2020, 12:22 PM (3 replies)

A teachers view on public schools opening here in WI....

Dear everyone,
I just need to get on my soapbox for a moment. I never do this, so you can tolerate it. And if you donít want to...keep scrolling. ***here is your chance to move on in your feed****

Last week, the state released its guidelines for school in the fall, and people lost their minds. As a teacher and a person who researches things heavily, here are some things you need to know:

1. The guidelines are just that. GUIDELINES. They are not mandates. The media got ahold of the 85 pages of material released by the DPI and reported some extreme scenarios. Before you flip, please take a moment to breathe. No district has to follow all 85 pages of suggestions. Some districts legitimately cannot. There are multiple plans in those pages. Some might work for one district, but not another. No district is taking those guidelines lightly. They are trying every possible way to make a plan that makes sense. They are being challenged to do what is best for ALL students. Not what simply happens to be convenient for your child. That doesnít mean we donít value you or your opinion. It needs to be remembered that public schools have to provide a free and a SAFE environment for ALL. While your child may be low risk, and your family may be low risk, not every child and family lives that reality. And sadly, we have to go for safe, not convenient. We have kids with health issues, or that live with elderly grandparents, or infants in the home that they can carry germs to. How would you feel if you spread something to them?
2. Your teachers want to go back to school like normal just as much as you do. I have met exactly 0 teachers that want to go back to online teaching. We werenít sitting at home in our pajamas doing nothing from March-June. We were sitting at home in our pajamas literally inventing a whole new thing, answering emails all night, staring at a computer nonstop and getting headaches and driving papers to houses and trying everything short of messenger pigeons to keep in contact with our students. We were worried sick about our kids getting enough food, or not being with safe parents. Most of us spent more hours working at home than we did in normal school. If we canít go back to school normal, it isnít because we donít want to.
3. Today our country officially ďunflattenedĒ the curve. This virus is not gone. This virus is now heavily effecting MY age group. ďBut that is because 20-39 year olds are going to packed bars.Ē Perhaps... but if we go back to school like normal, Iíll be in a small windowless room with 30 other people. Given the square footage of my classroom, it would have to be similar to a bar as far as exposure levels. Hmmm...Now consider one child gets sick in my classroom, and perhaps we choose a model where teachers rotate to different classrooms to lessen the amount of students in the hallway. Now 4 teachers have rotated through that one room with the sick kid. If the school follows the health department protocol which says 5 minutes of exposure to a sick person means you should enter self quarantine...that means that one class plus all four teachers should be sent home for two weeks. Now what is the plan? Find four subs? Good luck. And can we trust the subs to know that Bobby is a nose picker and we need to monitor extra where he touches, and Johnny chews on things so we need to watch him, and will the sub sanitize the hand sanitizer like I do? Will the sub know to watch Susie because she has anxiety and Covid makes her extra tense? And if Iím sick myself with covid, will I be able to write lesson plans?!!! And do I now do double because I need to create online work for my fellow quarantined kids? Keep in mind, this is just one scenario where I am pointing out the flaws. I am a low risk, healthy woman with 0+ blood. What about my high-risk co-workers? All over the state, people are sitting on committees seeing all these dead ends. It is mind boggling.

So you want normal? Again, so do I. However, the reality is, no matter what, it wonít be normal. Maybe we will be trying to figure out how to make things less risky. Students will be kept apart. We will be sanitizing. We will be encouraging masks. Or maybe we will start online. Or maybe we will try normal and then need to go online. Just please, please, please be ready to adapt like your teachers. And stop worrying so much about your kids! (I know that sounds heartless, but hear me out.) I may not have children of my own, but I have been a teacher for 8 years, and worked in a classroom or childcare for 5 years before that, and the resilience of children is INCREDIBLE. We could learn a thing or two about how they go with the flow and adapt to change. And remember, kids take on the attitude of the adults in their life. If you are positive, they will be too. As a teacher, we leave our feelings at the door every day to try to keep things normal for our students. We might be going through a personal crisis, but for some kids, school is their only safe place, and we are trying to keep it that way. Parents can practice this at home too when it comes to the school situation. And if we do have to go online, not matter how much we hate it, we arenít going to tell the kids that!!! Itís called professionalism.

***Do you want to have a better chance of going back to normal, or back to normal faster?***

WEAR A MASK. (Unless you have a health or sensory reason that makes this impossible.) It is annoying. I hate it. It muffles my voice. My students wonít see my smile. It makes my makeup melt off. But I canít ignore the studies showing how many particles a typical human emits talking loudly for 10 minutes. My job is to talk loudly for a whole day. It is also my job to keep your kids safe. Just like I have a plan for protecting your child from a shooter, I am now making plans for how to protect them from a virus, even if it will annoy me. I realize that I can pass the virus without showing symptoms. Start having your kids practice wearing a mask for small periods of time at home or during trips in public. Even young kids can handle wearing one in small time intervals, and Iíll take even that if it means keeping others healthy a few minutes longer. Pick out some cute fabric. Make it fun. And if somehow we find out a mask was useless (which it isnít. There are many, many studies about this.) the worst that will happen is that you will have been slightly inconvenienced for a few months. Guess what? Lots of kids hate wearing pants, but we get them to! Treat a mask like pants! History shows us that during the Spanish Flu epidemic there were ďanti-mask leaguesĒ too. Guess what? There was a second wave of Spanish flu that killed more than the first wave. Ever heard that phrase, ďHistory repeats itself?Ē

STOP GOING TO BUSY PLACES! Iím bored too. We want to get out. There are safe places to go. Be creative. You have the internet at your fingertips! As a history teacher I am compelled to remind you that past generations have made sacrifices without complaint. People have respected nighttime curfews and rationing during wars. Ask your grandparents about the awesome small sacrifices they have made for the country. They were probably much bigger deals than skipping a trip to Noahís ark or wearing a mask. Covid-19 is our war. We are making history right now. (And fun fact; our current death tolls are higher than several of the wars we have fought.) Maybe, just maybe, if we wear our masks and stay home we can knock this out and have a better chance at school in fall and your teachers will happily disregard all the planning we have started for being ready for 16 different scenarios. (There are several countries that went on total lockdown, kicked out covid, and are now back to business as usual. This is fact.)

Start preparing your child. Let them know there could be many ways this could go. Help them get used to a mask. Use this time as a nice reminder that ďthe world does not revolve around you.Ē Isnít that a trait we want our kids to have? Those arrows on the floor at Walmart? Practice the ancient art form of following directions. Not only is this a helpful life skill during Covid...but also life! Teach them to think of risky places to touch like door knobs and light switches. Practice not touching your face. I love being a teacher, but I LOVE when I donít need to see your kid picking their nose while I make eye contact with them. These things are helpful in any germ scenario. Everyone hates feeling crummy. It doesnít have to just be Covid we are avoiding. Colds, flu, whatever!

And finally, do not say that kids need to go back to school to save the economy. This is a masked way of calling a teacher a babysitter. I did not go to college and work on other certifications and get active shooter training and learn how to pack gunshot wounds to be your free babysitter. Yes, we are very lucky that we continued to receive a pay check (because we were, you know, doing our job) during the quarantine period. However, many of us were unable to work our second jobs and are now missing out on our summer jobs that we need because our first job doesnít pay so great. And believe it or not, teachers also care about the economy. Guess what happens when the economy sucks? $$$ FOR SCHOOLS GET CUT. Did I mention we already got budget cuts for the upcoming school year when we will need to put in extra safety protocols? SERIOUSLY, we get it.

So in conclusion...we really all want the same thing. We need a little bit of compromise to get there. Be kind. Wash your hands. Thank you.

*Currently circulating on Facebook

From my doctor...yes, I get emails from him.

Wear a mask!

Yup, this is Wisconsin....parts of it anyway, more than I'd like to think.

Today was one of the worst days Iíve ever had in the Army in almost 24 years. Today I sat down with my entire Battalion to discuss the current issues we are facing as a nation. I wasnít prepared.

Fort McCoy is in a very rural community. Very rural. It is nestled in between the towns of Sparta, Wisconsin and Tomah, Wisconsin. Each town has a population under 10,000, and the demographics are not diverse. Both towns are situated in the poorest county in the state (Monroe), and we are 45 minutes to an hour away from the next biggest town. Itís not a bad place to be stationed if you like peace and quiet, small town living, and you arenít black or brown.

I had asked my Commander earlier in the week to talk to the Battalion because Ive been bothered for a bit now about how things are going in the country. I have several people in my life who I talk to on a regular basis. People who I genuinely care for, and people I tremendously respect. Over the last two weeks Iíve heard, Rich that could have been my son. Rich I just tell my kids all they need to do is get home safe. Rich Iím scared to let my kids out of the house. I have two boys and the thought of people I care about living their lives like that breaks my heart.

Today I wanted my Battalion to know that while I canít view the world through their eyes, I donít live their lives, and while I canít walk in their shoes everyday, I recognized their is a problem, and I would be there to listen to them and help where ever I could. And thats how I lead off the discussion. What I got back gutted me.

I sat in front of a room full of people who are like family to me. I would do anything for them. By the very nature of my profession, I would give my life for them. Iíve been their Command Sergeant Major for over two years now. These are people I see everyday. I had no idea that I have Soldiers who wear their uniforms to grocery shop because they are scared of how they are treated in Walmart when they donít. I had no idea that I have Soldiers whoís kids regularly come home from school crying because another kid called them the n-word...again. I had no idea that I had a Soldier who had to take their child out of school because they were being so tormented over the color of their skin. I had no idea I had a Soldier whoís wife was turned down for a job at a local bank because, ďwe donít hire youíre type in this town.Ē I had no idea that a few weeks ago one of my Soldiers, who is one of the most kind and gentle women I know, was told to ďget out of the crosswalk n-wordĒ as she was out for her evening walk. I had no idea that I had Soldiers who felt like this is the worst place they had ever been stationed in the Army. Not because of the unit, but because of the racism in the surrounding area. I had no idea.

I spent two and half hours listening to them, letting them vent their fears and frustrations, and crying with them. Iím still a wreck three hours later. Iím not able to type this without choking up. These arenít towns I want to live in. This isnít the America that I want to live in. Something needs to change. Something needs to drastically change.

Where do you begin? How do you change an entire community? How do you get so many people to try and see life through the eyes of another person so that they understand how unfair and unjust the system really is. I donít know. All I know is Iím going to do my best to figure it out with them, and hopefully I can make a small yet positive difference in their lives. Hopefully.

*from Facebook, posted by a personal friend, who is also personally friends with this man.
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