A Fortnight into COVID-19: Fourteen Brief Reflections

It’s late on Friday the 27th (actually it’s after midnight on the 28th) I need to get to bed soon, so I’m going to try keep this post brief.

Each of us will measure this challenging time from a different starting date. And it’s likely that each of us will have somewhat different ending dates as well.

My starting date for when this s— got real was two weeks ago – on Friday March 13th. The day before the 13th, less than 30 minutes after school ended at the Catholic high school where I teach in Columbus, Ohio, my phone buzzed with multiple notifications that our governor declared all K-12 schools to be closed for the next three weeks.

While some of the students who remained in the hallways, seemed pretty happy with this news, I was shaken by it. Our administration had been talking with the faculty/staff about how this could happen at some point. To hear it was happening right now, meant that this virus was serious and extreme measures would have to be taken.

On Friday the 13th, our administration met with the faculty before school and then met in our gym with each of the four grade levels. I commend our school leaders for being direct and for stating a clear plan for the three weeks: Week 1 (last week) – rest/relax. Week 2 (this week just ending) – our planned Spring Break. Week 3 (next week) learning via our school technology would begin. Before that school day ended, two weeks ago now, the students were told to clean out their lockers.

We didn’t tell our students that they were doing this b/c there was a chance that school wouldn’t resume face to face on Monday, April 6th. While our governor has only kept the schools closed, as well as a “stay at home” order until April 6th, he’s already signaled that schools in Ohio may stay closed even longer than the start of April.

So, I’ve been on a two week break from work. I thank God each and every moment that I am comfortable, safe, healthy – and still getting a paycheck. I know these fourteen brief reflections I share below would be very different if I had a different job or a different economic location.

1). I’ve really enjoyed dusting off my old blog and sharing with the world from this digital location. Below are some of the images that I’ve used over the past two weeks.

2). I am so much more rested during these days when I can get seven or more hours of sleep per night rather than the five and a half or six hours I usually get on school nights.

3). It’s unexpected, sad and also good, to have my son back at home after his second semester of college shifted from face to face to online. He’s set up in our basement a rough facsimile of his now moved-out of dorm room.

4). My 16 year-old daughter, who has always been one who wants to get out of the house and go to Starbucks, shopping with friends, or to friends’ homes, has done alright settling in to our “stay at home.” She was pretty sad at first with school ending and angry that she couldn’t leave the home to hang out with friends. Yet, after two weeks, she’s made a tense peace with our current reality.

5). Getting out of the house to walk around the neighborhood and down to a park does my body and soul good!

6). I’ve learned very quickly how to use Zoom. In fact, I’ve helped a number of friends learn how to set up this tool in order to video conference with others. Honestly, two weeks ago when I heard “Zoom,” I first thought of the PBS TV show I grew up watching!

7). Going to the grocery store is strange, stressful and something that I’m glad that I’ve only had to do a couple of times. When I went, a tension filled the aisles as grim-faced shoppers passed by more than a few completely bare shelves.

8). Sunshine makes all of the difference! This period started out overcast and pretty chilly (highs in the low 50’s) Finally, we got a great sunny, warm day – the day before yesterday. And it was so good to be out in it!

9). My breath is taken away on a daily basis as I watch the number of confirmed cases rise, observe the stock market drop and see a record high unemployment rate for just the first week of this period. I feel afraid for what the economy might look like in a month or even six months from now.

10). I miss my students and I wonder how they and their families are doing during this crisis. Their first assignment next week will be to check in via our digital message board. This will help us to recover a sense of the community we feel in my classroom.

11). I am really grateful for SiriusXM radio that I can stream from my computer or phone. It’s helped me remember how nice it is to hear DJ’s and also to be surprised by the next song which plays.

12). I am grateful for my wife, who acted boldly about a month ago. Before COVID was on most people’s radar screens, she bought our home a stand alone freezer and stocked it thoughtfully with food from Costco. Hopefully the local grocery supply chains will stay intact and the stores will have ample stock. It does feel good to know that we have ample food right here at home.

13). I am grateful for Ohio Governor Mike Dewine and his courageous and bold actions. He was one of the first US governors to close all of the schools. It was the right thing to do and I’m sure that it is going to keep our state-wide number of cases lower than other places.

14). The fact that it is now a fortnight since I was at my school and I’ve not developed COVID symptoms, means that I wasn’t exposed there. I think my household members and I have been careful when we’ve left the house, so hopefully in the short-term our chances of getting this virus are low.

To end (and to go to bed) – I’m grateful; wondering how long this social distancing will last; not yet that restless to get back to “normal;” eager to reconnect with my students; angry at how poorly the White House has responded to this crisis; more rested than usual, and generally present in this very odd moment.

And so I wrap up. I had quite a few readers and new follower of this blog. But I’ve not had too many comments or replies to my posts.

So, how are you doing? What is the “start date” of this period for you? What has been your daily experience during this remarkable and historic moment?

Feel free to answer these in the comment section below!

Thank you for reading.

Be well and stay well,

Rick

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