Hiding in the corner of my classroom, after the words "LOCKDOWN-LOCKDOWN-LOCKDOWN", my students look to me. The unannounced drill is most likely a drill, but there is a little piece of me, petrified, that worries what if it isn't? 26 third graders look to me to keep them safe, to reassure them that all is well. I smile and pray that this is just another practice.
And, for now, it's all been practice.
Now, another threat- the Corona Virus. I need to reassure all my students that they are safe and all is well, but inside, I am worried. I see what has happened in China and Italy and I worry about all of us. Will we be okay? What if someone in my family gets sick? What if I get sick? What if we all get sick?
Tonight I needed to go to CVS. The parking lot felt eerily empty. Passing a stranger on the sidewalk, her face like stone, I was immediately brought back to 9/11 and the way everyone looked just shell-shocked. The way no one knew anything but something beyond thinkable had occurred. We were all unsure of what was previously so normal and routine.
Teachers have to be calm and reassuring when everything is falling apart around us. When students are crouched in a corner and we don't know if there is a person with a gun outside our door, we smile and motion for them to be quiet because that's the only prayer any of us have for survival. When a virus that we don't really understand threatens to sicken our communities, we smile and remind them to wash their hand and cover their mouths.
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski