So I find myself a teacher with virtual classes now. Our school sent kids home on Friday for two weeks, starting Spring Break early due to the COVID-19 outbreak across the world and the need to keep a “social distance” to flatten the spread of the pandemic. It is a very strange feeling. I feel ready for this and confident with distance learning because I have a master’s degree in EdTech. But to experience a pandemic (with all its attendance impact on daily life, including work and school) is something completely new and, to be honest, not something I expected to experience in my lifetime.
When I left school on Friday, I didn’t know what the future held, so I brought home most of my assignments I still had to “process” and last minute grading I had to finish. Friday was the end of our quarter. I’m operating on the assumption that report cards will still be due on Wednesday (as they always are after a quarter’s end), but new developments may change that. Some schools are off a long time! Long Beach Unified School District, for example, is off until 20 April!
So one of the things I did on my “slide of the day” for my students is to suggest that they start keeping a journal (or blogging!) if they didn’t already do so. It is important to jot down how one feels and what one observes during this time. It is history in action! What a person writes will be considered a “primary source” document in the decades to come later when we look back upon it and write about it in textbooks. And, because I never ask my students to do something I wouldn’t, I am committed to making posts to my blog as well; I want to be a good model!
(And since my last post was 2.5 years ago, what better time to get back in the saddle and start writing again?)
One of the craziest things I’ve experienced is the evidence of “panic buying” in grocery stores. For example, I had asked Mr. Rovira to buy me some ramen (since that is one of my staple foods—COVID 19 outbreak or not), and he said that there wasn’t any in the store. Since I had just been there on Monday to get some for my week at school, I thought, “Eh, maybe he just didn’t find the ramen aisle, or my flavor was out.” Well, one of the things I did Saturday morning is to get up and stop by the store to get my ramen, and some noodles to use for Saturday night dinner. I got to the noodle (and ramen) aisle, and they were EMPTY. Like, he really wasn’t lying. There were none. It wasn’t like they didn’t have my preferred flavor; they had none. No frozen peas. No potatoes. I was running out of dinner ideas because I couldn’t get all the ingredients I needed. The lines were long. One woman just stood there with her cart and admitted, “I don’t know why I am here.” I got a few things for breakfast for the week, since the Things will be home, too, and I went home. I had grading to do.
So I got back to grading on a dreary Saturday. I think part of what is making people in Southern California panic more than necessary about the COVID issue, is the fact that it has been grey and gloomy, sometimes raining, all week long. It adds to the paranoia, creating a darker mood.
After grading for a while, I took another break to go to Target because I needed some shampoo. I knew better to expect to be able to find any groceries—incidentally, there were no frozen peas or noodles there, either—and I just had to snap photos to document the craziness. No medicine. No soup! (“No soup for you!” – students, ask your parents about this allusion I just put in my blog post!) No bread or tortillas. No one was fighting each other, as I’ve seen on the news in other locations in our United States.
Now, if we lived where my husband’s extended family lives (in Louisiana, where hurricanes are a normal occurrence part of the year), maybe I’d be more used to this. But we don’t. This will take a while for me to get used to a “new normal,” as the news reports. Now on Sunday morning as I write this, I am resolved to just avoiding the stores for a few days.
In the end, Mr. Rovira and I went out to eat at Baek Jeong (Korean BBQ) Saturday night since I couldn’t get the other things I needed. The Things didn’t feel like eating much, and preferred playing video games or watching Netflix, so they stayed home. It is also easier to get seated there with two rather than five. 🙂
Tonight, I’ll make something with my chicken that doesn’t involve noodles. 🙂 I’m reporting for work tomorrow, but I don’t know yet what I will be told when I get there. Even before they cancelled our classes, they started cancelling some ancillary things like Open House, any field trips, and awards events. More info to come, I guess. In the meantime, I’ll keep grading and investigating different online programs for instruction. I’ve gotten lots of emails in the past few days from different companies—some our school already uses and some we don’t—letting us know how they will support our instruction in the coming weeks. I will also take a nice Sunday afternoon nap to keep myself healthy and my immune system strong to potentially fight off any nasty bacteria or viruses, including COVID-19.
PS. If you’re wanting to read an interesting article on “social distancing,” try reading THIS ONE at the Washington Post. It was interesting and did a great job explaining the different models epidemiologists have to try to prevent or “flatline” the outbreak.