Sunday, March 13, 2022

A Pandemic 2 Year Anniversary

This weekend marks the 2 year anniversary when everything shut down in 2020 thanks to the growing numbers of Covid 19. 

As with any milestone in our lives, it causes us all to take pause.

It struck me especially earlier in the week when this image popped up in my Facebook memories from 2 years ago. Little did I know the extent of foreshadowing it really would be.

Thinking back more to Friday, March 13th, 2020, that was the day our school along with the majority of all schools across the country shut down. I had just come off a grueling recertification application for our school's Maryland Green School status. I'd been working nonstop on that application for about 8 weeks, which overlapped with approximately 2 weeks of school tech prep, trying to forecast needs for what our tech team thought would be a 2 week (or so) Coronavirus hiatus. My spring break travel plans to see my mom in another state were canceled and I spent my break instead on tech prep documentation. Spring break was followed by remote learning. Not 2 weeks, but 2 and a half months. My daughter's high school graduation went virtual. Her senior trip was canceled. Summer vacation plans were canceled. "Covid College" was a thing. At my independent school, we started the school year masked and hybrid, splitting classes into cohorts who went every other day. Zooming while teaching in class felt like we were juggling knives and living in triage. Meanwhile many others schools stayed remote for the bulk of the year, dealing with their own challenges. One year ago, a year into the pandemic, our school brought all students back full time, but it was rare compared to the public schools, and it was no where near what teaching had been pre-pandemic.

What we thought would last 2 weeks has now rounded out 2 years. [I remember flipping out when someone commented in April or May of 2020 that it could go until 2021!] 

Terminology such as the multitude of variants, "social distancing," "flattening the curve," "learning loss," "zoomers and roomers,""contact tracing," and "vaxed and boosted" have peppered our vernacular. We've gotten good at "doomscrolling" on our devices. We've also been either hopeful or stressed while mask mandates are lifted. This past 3 weeks at my school was "mask optional," and in some ways, I'm not sure I'll ever be ready to take off my mask in large groups. When the virus eased up last summer before Delta came, I had my mask off--now, I'm thankfully watching those positivity rates decline in our highly-vaccinated state, but I also am waiting for the other shoe to drop. Are we really ready globally to call it Covid-quits...or does the virus have another plan in store? I just don't know any more!!

Throughout the whole pandemic and its many phases, I've often thought of times in history when people have collectively gone through events that have changed them. War is often what comes to mind. I think of the victory gardens and rationing of WWII and how people worked collectively for the common good. I think of the way people of the world united over 9/11. Even globally, much of the world is collectively on the same side of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the fight for democracy. Yet, fighting the pandemic didn't fall in that same category in our now-very-partisan country. As a teacher, following the science of the virus all seems so incredibly logical--yet not everyone has viewed Covid-19 this way. [But that's become a political rabbit hole, and one I'm not heading down here.]

Two years in "normal times" brings about a lot of change. During a pandemic: even more. We all are collectively changed. At times, I almost feel like it has literally changed my DNA. In some ways, perhaps we all are a little broken because of it.

There has been a lot of talk over the last two years about the "new normal" and what that is and what it should be... and how perhaps we should all "just return to normal." I think we are all still recovering--especially those of us who have lost someone to the virus. (Covid deaths over these two years in the US near the 1 million mark at 965,000 people.) Many of us are still mourning the loss, too, of missed milestones and hampered opportunities stolen by the pandemic.

While epidemiologists and medical doctors continue to learn more about Covid-19, its mutations and longterm effects, we as citizens are continuing to learn how to navigate this world. As in times of enormous change, that's when we re-analyze our priorities and make decisions how to go forward. Determining how to be with each other again after globally enduring a lot of isolation. No doubt, we will all be learning from this for quite some time. With any luck, it's rounding the bend. May we navigate it well, taking care of each other along the way as we do.

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