Report from Louisiana: Treading Water

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I know you are with me when I reiterate I will be so glad when this pandemic is over.

Everyone is dealing with this in their own way: the anti-maskers, the maskers, the “no-way-will-I-take-that-vaccine” people, to the ones who say bring it on. Has any disease ever so divided a people or become so politicized as this one?

And I know people are working from home, working on the front lines, and everything in between. I can only tell you about what I see in the schools.

I teach in a Title 1 high school with an enrollment of around 600, give or take. As with most places nationwide, our Covid numbers are surging once again. The only number I really pay attention to is the hospitalizations number.

In August, on the day school started, our hospitalization number was 536. I wrote it down. As of today, December 7, our hospitalization number is 1392.

Our district is 100% face to face every single day, although there is a virtual option offered for those who want to be 100% virtual. There are some who do that. I have about twenty kids in each of my English II classes. Friday, I have five kids present in fourth block. Five. Everyone else was absent or in quarantine. We had twelve teachers in quarantine Friday, and our faculty has about 60 teachers.

Because of the Family Medical Leave Act, teachers have ten excused Covid days but these expire in December, unlike the virus itself, and nobody seems to be talking about renewing that.

One of the things that worries me is that Pete hired me to make a contribution to this blog, and I often feel like I’m giving him (and you) short shrift, but damn, I’m trying to keep my head above water here, and I know you understand. I am simultaneously teaching kids online through Google classroom who are absent from class, teaching my in-person kids, covering classes for teachers that are out, pulling together makeup assignments, cleaning and sanitizing my classroom, Chromebooks, and high touch surfaces.

Our state is continuing on with high stakes End of Course testing in January (we are on block schedule so one semester ends in January and another will begin), and I have to get whatever kids are here ready for that and help the absent ones get caught up.

It’s madness.

So, bear with me if my posts right now are too Covid, too teacher focused. Today is Pearl Harbor Day and I really wanted to write something beautiful about that and call attention to this date. My mind isn’t working in the direction I want it to, so that post is just not coming together.

We’re all just doing the best we can right now, aren’t we?

Thanks for your patience with me!

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

My Best Advice: Don’t Let Events Rule Your Life

One of the reasons why I needed a day off yesterday is that watching what is happening is rather stressful.

Any person who knows the history knows that republics tend to commit suicide due to the population becoming too comfortable and the state becoming too powerful to the point where it provides the bread rather than the people providing for themselves.

Knowing this and watching the rather blatant steal of the election going on while those with the power to stop it choose (for reasons we can only speculate about) inaction can be soul crushing.

So I have a suggestion.

If you aren’t actually involved, walk away for a bit.

  • If there is something you can directly do to affect the decisions in the key states involved by all means take the necessary action to do so.
  • If there is something that the people directly acting to stop this fraud ask of you, by all means do it. (This can be anything from retweeting a video to voting in the Georgia runoff).
  • If there is something indirect that you can do from attending a local rally to holding a sign at a protect by all means do so.
  • By all means pray whether you are a priest praying an exorcism or a lay person asking God for help in this endeavor.

But if you can’t do any of these things, walk away for a bit, remember that Christmas is upon us and take joy in the season. Live your life and do so with joy (this will depress the left to no end) and tune out the idiots trying to keep you obsessed.

Regardless of what happens life is going to go on. Help where you can but don’t allow any of these people to keep you from living it.

That’s the best advice I can give and I intend to take it as much as possible while of course still putting out my thoughts on the subject.