Dealing With Life During Coronavirus
It was New Year’s Day of 2020 and I felt that “annus horribilis” was finally over. I could have not predicted that the upcoming months were going to be the worst and more surreal of my life. When a new virus appeared in China at the end of last year, I did not pay much attention to the news, I did not panic, why should I? After all, we were safe; it was not affecting us here in the USA. Little I knew that an epidemic that started in China in December was going to change our lives. When I started my confinement in March I did not realize we were looking at the most dangerous and scary world health crisis many of us have ever experienced.
“I did not realise we were looking at the most dangerous and scary world health crisis many of us have ever experienced.”
I am a school teacher and I am used to earthquakes and fire drills, hence, I am prepared to tackle most emergencies at school. However, no one had prepared me to endure the effects of a pandemia dangerous enough to close our schools and turn our lives upside down for months. Friday 13th of March, we were told by our school principal that this was going to be the last day with our students until further notice. At that very moment, I realized the severity of the problem. Life the way I had known and was familiar to me ended that day.
I have been in confinement for 7 weeks now, teaching from home and looking into August as a possible date to return to school. And here I am teaching from my living room. What seemed like an easy task on the first day of quarantine, has proven to be very challenging for teachers, parents, and students. As a teacher, I have been bombarded with endless remote teaching platforms. It almost seems they had been lurking around for years to surface at the exact moment, the precise moment a major pandemic would imprison us in our own houses for months. And now, I find myself researching and receiving webinars daily. There are so many resources, it is hard to select one. Every district has adopted a different platform fomenting inconsistency in our students’ learning.
During this pandemic parents are also suffering. They have been compelled to sit with their kids for hours explaining concepts, realizing in the process that teachers are actually working very hard during the COVID-19 pandemic and they will continue after this mess is over. As a consequence of COVID-19, however, it has become evident to society that teachers actually “do” teach for six hours a day and it is not as simple a task as some may think. As a consequence, I find parents sending emails of appreciation daily.
But the real victims are the students. Students can’t wait to go back to school and retake their normal routine. I get messages every day from my students telling me how much they miss their peers and me. The lesson I believe we have learned is that none of the teaching platforms, technology, or online resources will ever replace the human touch of a teacher. Teachers do much more than the pure dissemination of information. Teachers nurture the soul of children and allow them to become curious about the world; it is then when learning happens.
“Teachers nurture the soul of children and allow them to become curious about the world.“
An online conference with students will never replace the human contact and the love a teacher can provide for students. I know I will not be able to grab my microphone so I don’t strain my voice when I read a tantalizing story to my students. I miss our classroom Friday meetings where we fine tune our class democracy project.
This year, my students will not have the opportunity to finish building our Never-Before Seen city in which we role play life situations and practice our classroom community building. We will not have the opportunity to go to Science Camp together and have the best time of our lives learning about biology, astrology, and community bonding. My fifth graders will not get to walk on Culmination Day. They will not learn how much they have meant to me and to their friends. Finally, I will not get to hug them any time soon.
I know this pandemic is out of my control and I can’t do much to stop it except taking the advice and staying home, but I feel frustrated because I cannot help my students accomplish the dreams they had for the last three months of our lives together. Those days and months, I feel, have been stolen from our lives forever by a microscopic intruder named Coronavirus.