One morning, you jolt up at 5 am, an hour ahead of your usual time. Teachers need their rest, or at least all the rest they can get. It’s not by your alarm – your phone is ringing, vibrating off the nightstand. You pick it up, and find out school is out due to the coronavirus. You’re not sure when school will resume, but it feels like a snow day in spring time.
At first, undeniably, you’re excited. Being an educator is a tough, at times thankless, underpaid, and a round-the-clock job. You are constantly there for your kids, their parents, and the community that you share. It feels nice to hit the pause button. But that pause lasts the rest of the week. And then into the next.
You are getting messages from your parents and students, confused and worried. You are not sure what to do, but do your best to coordinate with your team virtually and cobble together assignments until you know more. And then one day, Governor Northam announces school has been cancelled for the rest of the academic year. That “snow day” joy is no longer there.
Governor Northam made the right decision for the Commonwealth’s safety and security, especially for our children. COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on the country as we are all trying to figure out what our next steps are. We are all taking steps to flatten the curve, practicing social distancing, staying in more, and relearning how to wash our hands.
This virus has left many sick, unemployed, and in some tragic cases, dead. As an educator, we know, just as our nurses and healthcare workers know, our job is not over. Across the Commonwealth and nation, we educators are adapting to the challenges this virus has presented us through digital distance Learning, and utilizing several online resources – even social media, to keep our classrooms and parents connected.
Even though our kids may be safer from the virus by staying indoors or in their backyard than in school, there are many things our children across Virginia are sadly not safe from. Many are trapped in their homes with their abuser. Many are food insecure. Many do not have the technological means to ensure an equitable education during this trying time.
These are the things that are on a teacher’s mind during this time. We cannot rest, and we must be more active than ever. We know it is our job to make sure learning continues, in whatever form. We know it is our job, as teachers, guidance counselors, principals, and secretaries to keep our communities fed and connected. And people are taking notice.
As an educator, I can personally say we are happy to be on the front lines of this invisible war. We are happy to serve, and do our part. Learning must not stop in the face of uncertainty. Serving your community does not stop in the face of fear. We must always be there for our children – we will all be measured by how we are stepping up to solve this crisis. We are all in this together – one nation and one classroom.