2001, September 11 attack.
School response: the Principal sent teachers who were free at the moment, quietly, to inform teachers classroom by classroom. Young students were not informed. Class went on as usual, as parents picked up children early all afternoon. School was cancelled the next day.
(Oklahoma City sends big boxes of teddy bears to DC schools, that they had received during their home-grown terrorist bombing.)
2002, three weeks of the D.C. Sniper shooting people randomly from a hole in the car’s trunk as they drove by.
School response: No outdoor gatherings at drop off or pick up, no outdoor recess.
(Volunteers come in to teach pent-up children yoga.)
2011, rare 5.8 Earthquake hits metro DC area.
School response: We knew something had happened but what? Staff came quietly around to tell teachers to take students under tables. Then came back around to send classes outside the building for early dismissal. No school the next day for structures to be safety-checked.
(We gave some thought to earthquake safety measures, though they are confusing.)
I have been a teacher of young children through these “not normal” times. When teachers, like parents, need to be the calm comfort. We don’t whisper in hallways, we don’t cry, we put on our “everything here is perfectly fine, all under control” face and voice.
As our school counselor put in her family newsletter article, when talking with children:
“…remember to be clear and direct. Here are some talking points:
The adults have things under control. Period.
It’s natural to be a little scared, but the adults have things under control.”
2020, Coronavirus. Days of watching world news, days of uncertainly, last-minute meetings, hourly emails with shifting changes of plans.
School response: Hand washing, hand sanitizer, elbow greetings. No Jamboree gatherings, no sports, no open houses.
As of today: Close. Distance Learning not yet planned but will happen. Realized that not all students have access to Wi-Fi so scrambling, today our last day, to send home “packets,” to be supplemented with online learning.
Return to school undetermined.
“Some activities – even school – may be canceled or closed, but that is because the adults are working to make sure it does not spread, and to prevent more people from getting it.
These things are not being closed or canceled because of an emergency or because something happened. The adults have things under control and are working hard to prevent more people from getting it.”
How is this worse than other “not normals?”
Longer, bigger, WAY BIGGER.
How is this less bad?
It’s not personal, it just is. The whole world is in it together.
As we keep our distance. As we break all our routines, cancel all our plans, and find out how we can work together. Without getting together.
Do the adults have things under control? I’m trying to hope so. I’m glad to be home from my last day of school (until I don’t know when) so I don’t have to pretend to think so.