• Chapter III

Pandemic

Friday, March 13, 2020.

Today was one of the most surreal days I have experienced since September 11, 2001. It was so similar. It was cooler, but the sky was just as blue, just as cloudless. And the silence after the kids left.....

This morning we waited for news. Schools in Ohio and Maryland were ordered to be closed, and we just waited to see if would follow. Numbers of infected rose overnight and things sound more serious hour by hour. The secretary of education at first did not provide direction for the state, which led to an entire day of speculation, meetings, and wondering. Finally we met with our superintendent to hear that schools in our county would be closing for two weeks. From there it was a complete whirlwind. My teachers were somewhat ready to launch virtual instruction, and we had a plan to pull people just for copying. We were very, very thoughtful about what to say to the kids. Since I have a primary and an intermediate school I waited until the end of the day, and delivered messages tailored to each level. Emails, phone calls, questions I didn't have the answers to, steadying the ship...

In the midst of all of this I was trying to get my daughter's flight changed. She's living in NYC for an internship and was planning to come home next week, but I need to get her home. She's worried more about how people are starting to act there, and that the trains may stop. Hold time for Delta was 6 hours. Six. Hours. I kept my phone on hold through meetings, driving to meetings.... after a mere 3 hours we got it done.

Making the rounds to each classroom, trying to catch the eye of every kiddo in the class, it was so sad for me to identify kids who were decidedly not happy about the turn of events. There were tears. There was real stress. There was real distress. Since we are 1:1 our kids can contact us but it's still not the same. They will miss the encouragement, the structure, the happiness, the hugs, the friends, and the adults who are kind even when they make mistakes. It was heart breaking especially because there was no time to talk them all through it. Dismissal was funny- the backpacks were all overloaded with books and supplies, and the tiny bodies looked like misshapen turtles with enormous, heavy shells.

We didn't really know what to say to each other as we were leaving school. Have a good break? See you soon?

Social media shows grocery stores being emptied. There is a run on toilet paper. And on Facebook people are starting to show their kindness. But things. are. weird. Gatherings of over 250 people are banned, concerts, sports....things change more every day.

More tomorrow. I'm so so tired.

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