By Crystal Elaine Ellison • July 31, 2020•Writers in Residence
It feels like it was just yesterday when I received an email from my daughters’ school mid-March about her transitioning to online schooling. Now, we’re back to square one.
On July 20, 2020, the Governor of Kansas, Laura Kelly, shared the details of Executive Order #20-58. One of the most important sections in this order is the delaying of schools from starting until after September 8, 2020: Labor Day weekend. The order could only be signed if the Kansas Board of Education voted to approve the order. Governor Kelly’s reasoning behind the order was to give districts more time to take precautions against spreading COVID-19. Unfortunately, the Board failed to reach an agreement on the order. However, schools will still be required to take safety precautions such as wearing a mask and being subject to a temperature check.
Is school for my daughter quickly approaching or will COVID-19 cause more disarray? As I scramble to get ideas, thoughts and suggestions from other parents, no one has the right answer. Are you sending your children back to school this fall? Are yourchildren going to do online schooling? What have you considered in coming to your decision? Every child is different and so is everyone’s household. Decisions as such need to be uniquely tailored to your family. However, talking through this tough topic amongst others isn’t a bad idea. The school proposed a hybrid type setting. For example, there will be two groups, Group A and Group B. Group A will attend school on Monday and Tuesday and Group B will attend school on Thursday and Friday. When either groups are not physical at school, that group will do virtual learning. I’m leaning towards my daughter opting for strictly virtual learning. She doesn’t like the idea but I can’t seem to wrap my head around how the hybrid proposal will keep everyone safe. I guess I’ll wait and see if things continue to change within the next month.
Honestly, when the whole pandemic started and I was required to work from home, I was excited. Similar to students and school, right? Many students were excited about being able to work virtually until events like the prom and graduation started to be postponed or cancelled. Suddenly, this pandemic created a nightmare that hit too close to home. I find myself running back and forth to work to grab discovery, turn in closed files, grab supplied, etc. My entire home has become my office space. I’m conducting video court at my kitchen table with a plant in the background to give that illusion of an office space. I’m searching for cabinets online for safekeeping. Trying to stay organized at home, absent an office may be the most troublesome part about working from home. I can’t possibly store 180 files in my home. I’m now contemplating turning my vanity into my new workspace. Besides, it’s not like I’m using my vanity these days to prepare for work. Let’s just say my beauty products have stretched these past several months.
At times, my phone and internet service gets a horrible connection when I’m “in court”. I recently had a horrible experience: unfortunately, it’s etched on my memory. I was in court via a telephone conference. The Court asked myself and the prosecutor the status of the case. In my opinion, the question was better suited for me to respond. However, both myself and the prosecutor started talking simultaneously. I was not aware of this, hence, my horrible service. Suddenly, I hear the Judge screaming and yelling at me saying things like “You are disrespectful!”, “How dare you talk over [the prosecutor] while he is talking!” Instead of the Judge understanding that technical difficulties may occur while working from home, she used that opportunity to badger me. It was so bad; the prosecutor felt the need to text me and apologize. What I’m learning is that youdefinitely can learn from horrible situations.
If that wasn’t horrible enough, as of June 19, 2020, the Presiding Judge of the 16th Judicial Circuit issued Administrative Order 2020-106 has cancelled all jury trials through October 2, 2020 in downtown Kansas City, MO and through September 20, 2020 in Independence, MO. I have rescheduled numerous cases set for trial due to COVID-19 with most of the cases being set in 2021. Some cases have been rescheduled to a year from now. This is definitely a factor in clients now considering the current plea deals that are on the table despite how ridiculous they may be. It sucks because this process is not necessarily affecting the prosecutor’s or forcing their hand, it’s more so affecting criminal defendant in a negative way regardless if they’re in or out of custody. Court hearings are being cancelled due to the courts being exposed to COVID-19. Defense attorneys are forced to file motion to ensure clients have a right to a hearing in person and not through some WebEx set-up that will inevitable screw things up. How is it possible to confidentially confer with your client through a WebEx call? Times are getting tough and it may just get worse. As for myself, I think I need to take a step back and take it one day at a time – today’s chaos can become easily overwhelming. Take it one day at a time.
Always remember, you have to be accountable for yourself and how you treat people. I still stand on my motto that I created years ago about not letting someone’s horrible attitude or energy towards you, become your reflection. You should remain professional at all time despite being treated horribly.