So how’d you pass the final peaceful hours of Labor Day weekend? We spent ours on the back porch, with the faint thrum of a cicada symphony as our soundtrack. The air was redolent of summer. The kids had situated themselves somewhere that we weren’t. Life seemed pretty darn okay.

Then our oldest came outside to tell us that our phones were “exploding.” We checked them with a sigh and learned that the local elementary school had been notified about a staff member’s positive COVID test at 5 p.m. EDT, some 15 hours before it was scheduled to reopen in half-semi-virtual mode.

And thus we were sucked into a vortex of underinformed overcommunication, complete with (false) rumors that every kindergartener and parent on a welcome-to-your-charming-little-red-brick-schoolhouse tour had been exposed to the infected individual. Even worse, we found ourselves included in what had quickly devolved into the War and Peace of passive-aggressive text threads about parenting, pitting the alarmist sect of local moms and dads against members of our concerned-but-rational tribe.

School didn’t open on Tuesday. My youngest’s first words to his new teacher, delivered via a shaky Zoom connection, were “I know what species Yoda is: A Muppet!” It’s been a decade of a year and the calendar says early September.

This week’s Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing is 1,450 words and will take you seven minutes to read. 

The mental grind

Partly because I mask and distance and hand-wash and partly because I’m fortunate enough to live in and work from a big dumb house in the suburbs, I’ve felt as well physically during the last half-year as I have in a long time. Mentally, it’s a different story.

The takeaway

The incidence of COVID-related PTSD, both for people who got sick and people overwhelmed by the stress of trying not to get sick (and everything that comes with it), is going to linger for decades. The country’s support infrastructure isn’t ready for that crisis, either.

School Prepares To Reopening To Students With Precautions Against Spread Of COVID-19 Coronavirus
Source: Getty

The new abnormal

A friend told me today that he saw a movie over the weekend. I didn’t even think to ask him whether he did so in a theater, because, come on, really? This is 2020.

The takeaway

Night is day. Green is red. Cats are dogs.

Ambulance Service In Chelsea, Mass., Grapples With State's Coronavirus Surge
Source: Getty

The “this won’t end well” section

“This won’t end well” used to be my punch line for situations involving too many agendas and too few manners. Now, it’s the underlying message of a majority of the news that crosses our screens.

The takeaway

Remember when optimism was the country’s default mode? Nowadays, even silver linings rust.

Students walking on school property while wearing masks
Source: Getty

The returns and revivals

Whether or not it makes sense, we’re putting our heads down and getting back to the task of doing whatever it is we’re supposed to be doing. Yay?

The takeaway

It’s easy to mistake movement for momentum, especially when we’re all so desperate for the normal and the familiar. Let’s just hope that safety ranks high on back-to-business priority lists.

The rest

Stuff you can do

…and some songs.

And so ends the “back to school” edition of the Haymarket Media Coronavirus Briefing. We’ll return with the next one on Wednesday, September 16. Be well.