Wednesday, April 1, 2020

An Open Letter to the School District

Dear folks in charge of the decision making down at the School District,

It has come to my attention that you are still planning to have “spring break” next week. I am writing to ask that you seriously reconsider that plan, because frankly, it’s stupid.

Spring break is meant to be a time of joy – a time to “break away” from the harsh rigors of school and the grueling six whole weeks of continuous study we’ve had to endure since ski week in February.

That would be great and all, if we could leave the house, but there’s a little viral wrench in the works this year. I know you know about it, because you guys send me six or seven emails a day expressly telling me that you are aware of the situation, you are proud of how you’re handling it, and you care deeply about my family’s health and safety.

Well, Mr. and Mrs. School District, I’m not a hundred percent sure that last part is correct. Do you really care?

You see, the governor has told us that we’re not allowed to go anywhere or do anything. I’m not sure if you school district big wigs got special travel dispensation, but the rest of us are supposed to remain locked inside our houses for the foreseeable future, which most certainly includes your so-called “spring break” next week.

Even if we could leave the house and go somewhere, all the places we were planning to go have closed. Exactly what are we supposed to do with our children on this “spring break” of yours? Take them to the grocery store? Nope. I’m pretty sure that’s not allowed under state law anymore.

Field trip to the Chevron? “Hey, kids, let’s go get gas! Stay in the car, though. Maybe if you’re good we’ll go through the car wash.”

I don’t think so, and these scenarios are what make me skeptical about your claim that you care about the health and safety of my family. Health includes mental health, and the only thing keeping our mental health even remotely intact right now is the existence of some sort of school schedule for our three boys.

Now, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that homeschooling is going well. It’s not. It’s not even going remotely well. But at the very least, their online schoolwork is an activity they’re required to accomplish during the day. That means they stay busy for at least part of the day, and more importantly, out of our hair and off of each other. Some days it may only be for fifteen or twenty minutes, but it’s something.

And if you cared at all about their safety, you’d definitely cancel this whole spring break nonsense. Have you people even ever seen two testosterone-y teenage boys and their crazy twelve-year-old brother caged up inside a house with nothing to do? If not, have you ever seen footage of a prison riot? Same thing.

We, as their parents, genuinely fear for their safety, because if they don’t kill each other, my wife and I might just finish the job. Possibly as early as day two. They are that annoying.

And please don’t suggest to me that we should let them play more video games. Screen time is not the answer if you are truly concerned about their health. Screen time is the answer if we’re looking to have them rapidly oscillate between lobotomized drooling and hyperactive insanity, but that’s not exactly the picture of mental health now, is it?

And don’t try to give me any nonsense about the hard-working teachers needing a break. My wife is one of those hard-working teachers, and she is not looking for a break from her students – she’s looking for a break from her own kids. Spring “break” will be the exact opposite of that.

A vast majority of our district teachers are in the same boat. They have kids, too. It’s not an excessive burden on them to teach through what would have been the break. They are all helping keep each other’s kids busy during the day. It’s a circle of life kinda deal.

And the teachers in our district who don’t have kids at home need to keep working just as much, but for a different reason. They’ve had to quickly ramp up to online teaching the past few weeks, and they’re as stressed out as the rest of their colleagues. Normally, a break would do them a world of good, if they were actually able to travel. However, if you make them stay home with nothing to do, they are just going to develop severe drinking problems.

Restaurants are allowed to deliver alcohol now! That’s not good. These teachers are trapped inside like the rest of us, and the fact that they still have to go to work each day, albeit in their pajamas, is the only thing keeping them from slipping off the edge. If you take away the responsibility of needing to be coherent during the day, it’s going to be a nine A.M. margarita-fueled disaster zone.

So, I beg you, for the good of all mankind in our district, please stop the inevitable spring break madness before it even begins. You can even take full credit for the great idea of “pushing on with valuable learning during these unprecedented times to maintain fluid educational continuity,” or however you want to word it to make yourselves sound amazing. You guys are good at that.

Just please, please don’t make me have to buy a monthly pass at the Chevron drive-thru car wash for field trips. I fear we’ll scrub off the Suburban’s entire top coat of paint just trying to keep our sanity next week without a school schedule.

Yours in educational excellence through continued partnership,


Copyright © 2020 Marc Schmatjen

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  1. Spring Break isn't cancelled -- that's a crack up! Thanks for making us all laugh during these times where a laugh is about the most valuable thing next to toilet paper!

  2. Thanks, Gail. I'm glad you can laugh along with me. Always remember - toilet paper and money can be substituted for each other, under equally dire but very different circumstances!