Back to school? Actually, it’s this 74-year-old’s first time in kindergarten

National

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (WHTM) — School at home? Nothing unusual about that this year. Grandparents attending kindergarten with a child while the child’s parents work? Those heroes are as common as facemasks and social distancing.

But my 74-year-old father, Len Kaplan, isn’t back in kindergarten. He’s there for the first time, because — as far as anyone alive can figure out, anyway — his mother/my grandmother kept him home in 1952, at the height of the polio epidemic.

So the polio epidemic kept him out of kindergarten, and the coronavirus pandemic sent him back into kindergarten with my niece.

The way the teacher, Doloria Barney, speaks about my dad, it sounds as though he might be on track for a most-improved-student award.

At the beginning of the year, “he was the most apprehensive, as far as what he would be able to do,” said Barney, who teaches at Nova Eisenhower Elementary School in Davie, Fla. But “when it came to doing things … he’s the first one to get it a lot of times.”

We’ve all focused on what students have lost this year, and Barney says there’s no denying that.

“But we also have to focus on that they are very resilient, they are able to be problem solvers and they are ready for the future,” she said.

And as for the in-home classroom “aides” who have helped sharpen their pencils, mute and unmute them and more generally make it all possible?

“Every grandparent out there — every mother, aunt, family member who has done their part — I am very thankful,” Barney said.

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