Day One, Friday The 13th
Today is Friday the 13th and I will consider this the first official “coronavirus” day off from school, day one of many days off — from school, from regularly scheduled arts and sports programs, from travel, from public gatherings, concerts, places of worship, the list goes on. For many reasons, and one I can name in particular, I first became intuitively aware of, and personally involved in how serious the virus would be upon my family’s return to Worcester from Miami during February school vacation. It is not like me to watch the news daily, but I could not avoid the snippets of alarming information concerning the virus: foreign travel bans, quarantines, then an email from my son’s college. The email was not alarmist, but firm in its commitment to cancel study abroad programs and warning students who chose to travel abroad during spring break, that they may be asked to stay away from campus for an extra week.
Flash forward just two weeks and the news is devastating. During this past week, our governor declared a state of emergency, the NCAA decided to host March Madness without an audience,( shocking,) then within days, canceled (unfathomable). And the NBA paused its season indefinitely. Locally during the past week the emails from my son’s college went from the possibility of remote learning for the week following spring break to completely shut down for the rest of the semester. The large school district where I teach proceeded with caution, sending the first email to faculty on Wednesday, followed up with a phone to parents urging them to ‘ignore the rumors that school was closed and to please send kids to school.’ Within 24 hours school was canceled for cleaning, and shortly thereafter, the decision was made to stay home, for weeks!
So many questions…How will our school district continue to provide our impoverished students a nutritious breakfast and lunch? How will their already struggling parents continue to work and pay rent? How can we engage in online learning when many of our students do not have a computer or access to internet? For my college son and his freshmen friends, I ask, what do millions of intelligent, inspired young people do when their long imagined, anticipated college experience is cut short by a pandemic? For my younger boys at home, I wonder if they will adhere to a sensible schedule imposed by their teacher mom? For all of us, I pray we can settle down with grace and without panic.