First Day of School Scents

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First Day of School Scents

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September 8, 2020 was the first day of school at my regional high school and I was beginning my third year as a teacher. As always, the night before the first day of school was marked by butterflies, but this time around, the butterflies were not due to the excitement and hecticness of the first day, but due to fear. As someone who social distanced to an extent unmatched by most of my peers, coming to school on the first day terrified me, as I was concerned with putting myself around so many other people in such a small room, specifically high school students who certainly enjoyed more social interaction over the summer than I did. However, as a teacher, I had to come in with a smile on my face, as you can see in the picture, despite the immense fear I was feeling in the pit of my stomach. What I remember most clearly is the smell of the school. The hallways were filled with hand sanitizer dispensers which released a scent that could overpower all else. Individual classrooms were packed with cleaning supplies and Lysol wipes which I had to clean each desk with between periods. What is so shocking is that more than anything, it is these smells that I associate with the fear I felt that first day of school. Though that first day was one of the most fear-inducing days of my life, the year ended up being incredibly rewarding and my students and I together helped each other through one o f the mo st difficult years of our lives. Though originally nervous to teach in 2020, I am incredibly grateful to have been able to conquer this year with my students by my side. Hopefully someday I will not have such an adverse reaction to the smell of hand sanitizer.

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This item was submitted on June 30, 2021 by Jennifer Simone using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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