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Reflections on a Year and New Beginnings

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Reflections on a Year and New Beginnings

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One year ago today, Thursday, March 12, 2020, I told my students in my usual snarky tone that they should all come to test corrections after school because they had nothing better to do - all their activities were cancelled. It had been a wild 48 hours - not only had all school activities, sports, and extra curricular been cancelled, the NBA shut down, March Madness was cancelled, and the UC campuses has announced online classes through the rest of the year, which we found like a shocking overreaction - the rest of the school year?! During after school test corrections, Disneyland, within walking distance of our high school, announced they were closing the next day. One of my students yelled out “Mrs. Jue, your birthday!!!!” because my birthday was the next week, and everyone knows I go to Disneyland every year on my birthday. (And once a week, again the park is within walking distance). I replied with “guess you know what my family is doing tonight!” And we did go, for what was the last time. It still wasn’t serious to us, although it should have been. I think we were all in denial. One of my students jokingly said “hey, if we can’t be in groups larger than 30, what about now?” There were 50 kids in the room. Remember that we didn’t know it was airborne yet, so I figured if we just all washed our hands and didn’t touch our faces, it wouldn’t be an issue. I was far more concerned about door handles and papers than I was about the air circulating in the room. Even picking up my daughter from gymnastics that night a year ago, her coaches were not concerned at all that State Championships, which were supposed to happen in three weeks, would be cancelled. That was the last time I saw her coaches and the last time my daughter set foot in the gym. The next day, on March 13, the day started normally - the kids were taking a unit test on World War II. After zero period, I jokingly said “hope to see you all Monday!” By third period, it wasn’t a joke anymore - Los Angeles and San Diego school districts announced they were closing through spring break. I told my third period (not to play favorites, but I LOVED my third period), “they better not close school! Monday is the start of the Cold War!” I had been hyping up the Cold War Era and the domestic movements of the 1960s and 1970s for three months. What can I say? I love teaching that era. I wasn’t sure what would happen, but I really somehow couldn’t comprehend that we would close. Exactly three hours later, one minute after school ended, we all received an emergency text. School was closed through the end of March. Everything was a blur. I called my mom who was picking up my kids. She was already driving home and I just kept saying “they’re doing it. We’re closing. They’re closing all the schools.” Somehow we all thought we would be back in two weeks. In retrospect, that seems insane. So, on a rainy Friday March 13, 2020, I left my classroom in a bit of a panic. Not sure what to grab or do, I came home, recorded an Instagram message to reassure my kids, and started planning a virtual schedule. And the rest is history. Today, one year later, on a sunny, turned rainy, Friday, March 12, 2021, I returned to my room. This time, it was a mix of excitement and apprehension. A week from Monday we reopen. Setting up my room, there were moments I almost forgot about the pandemic, I missed being there so much. 16 years of teaching, plus four years of high school means I have literally spent half my life at that school. Then I saw the reminders all around me. No tables (I have always had round tables of four for group work - they’ve been replaced by desks). Plexiglass. Signs warning to wear masks. Hand sanitizers (okay, that one’s a nice addition!) Outside, little circles for kids to stand on to ensure 6 feet of separation. A digital thermometer. Testing my technology, because even though I have to come back in person, 75% of my students have opted to end the year via distance learning. All classes will continue on Zoom. Essentially, I am doing the same thing I have done all year, but instead of logging into Zoom at home, I’m logging in from my desk at school in a mask. There will be some periods that I have TWO kids physically in the room with me, logged into Zoom, and 32 kids logged in from their homes. It is a strange solution, motivated in large part by the governor’s announcement that school districts that don’t open for in person by March 31 lose a huge amount of funding. We’re a low income area, we need the funding, I don’t blame the district for caving. I am also glad our district allowed the community to choose the option for learning that best matched the needs of their families. Still, it is very strange to try and imagine what the last two and a half months of the school year will look like. It’s been a long year. I am hopeful that we are on the trend to having healthy communities again, but if this year has taught us anything, you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.

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Date Submitted (Dublin Core)

03/13/2021

Date Modified (Dublin Core)

03/19/2021
4/14/21

Date Created (Dublin Core)

03/12/2021

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This item was submitted on March 13, 2021 by Kathryn Jue using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”: https://covid-19archive.org/s/archive

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