We had mentioned it in passing.
We had discussed it in hypotheticals.
We had never imagined it would turn out the way it did.
In the days and weeks leading up to March 13th, teachers and students alike were talking about COVID. Was it as bad as people said? Would it come to California? Would it come to our school? Would we have to shut down? We were so sure for so long that it would never come to that, but that whole week, it seemed like there was something in the atmosphere building to this day. The whole week it rained, and any teachers out there known that rainy days make for interesting school days. When there are rainy days back-to-back, tensions rise, we begin to feel couped up (teachers and students). It was the perfect preface for what was to come.
That Friday my phone continued to light up, but as I was teaching, I could not check it. At passing period, I would briefly look at my notifications: Disney announces closure, school district announces closure . . . Pandemic sweeps through the United States . . . COVID infection rising . . .
Between the rain, the notifications, the confusion amongst our own staff, (and oh ya, I was releasing the production cast list that day!) and the questions from the students, I just needed two minutes. Two minutes to gather myself, to prepare myself for another round of questions from my students: What is COVID? Will we die if we get it? Is this the end? Are we safe?
But it was rainy day, which meant that I did not have two minutes. My doors needed to be opened for students to come inside. I’ll never forget that I had a partner teacher who just happened to walk in randomly when I needed her most. She shut my door, told me that I was human, that I could take the two minutes I needed, that she would watch my kiddos so that I could catch my breath and regain my game face. I cannot say what her generosity and simple kindness meant to me.
I opened my door and the day resumed. Then, at 2:30pm, 15 minutes before the end of the school day, 15 minutes before I was to post my production cast, 15 minutes before the end of a very long, hard week, our principle came on the announcement system.
Due to COVID, we would not be returning to school the next week. We would break for Spring Break and we would most likely be back in a couple of weeks. Students were instructed to take all of their books home for online instruction.
During the entire announcement, students were whispering amongst themselves. When the announcement ended, some cheered and others burst into tears. Some thought it would be an extended Spring Break and others thought it signaled the end of the world.
We ended that day in prayer. We prayed for our nation, we prayed for each other and we prayed for wisdom. Looking back now, I am so grateful that that is the last memory my students will have of my “physical classroom.” Although we would continue to meet online, I am glad that we ended our classroom experience in prayer.