Two weeks after the school year had started in 2018, our school shutdown for 5 weeks. Actually, schools across several counties all shutdown. It was completely unprecedented and when we all picked up our kids on a Tuesday afternoon in September to prepare for what was coming, we had no idea that students across our state wouldn’t be able to return until the middle of October.
Now we find ourselves again looking at the possibility of a month long school closure (and in many areas of the country this has already been enacted) due to pandemic and as parents across the country panicking about their children’s education and wondering how they are going to homeschool them.
This is the thing that I want you all to know – Do not worry about your children missing school for a month. We have been through it. Here’s what I learned…
When our schools called an early dismissal on that Tuesday and informed us that there would be no school for the rest of the week, we were heading home to prepare for a hurricane. We prepped our homes, bought supplies, and hunkered down to wait for the storm to pass and return to our normal lives – including getting the kids back to school. We all assumed that once the storm passed we’d return to regular events, just like all the other times.
We holed up inside, lost power, and waited for the storm to pass – it was nearly 4 days before we were able to go back outside and when we did, no one was prepared for what we would find. More than 50% of the houses and business had flooding. The roofs to most of the schools were torn off in the storm and flooded. We were left without power for over a week. The heat and the humidity caused black mold and infectious bacteria to invade flooded buildings within 24 hours.
Once power was restored and damages assessed, we discovered that the schools weren’t fit for our students. They had to be disinfected, gutted, mold removed, floors replaced and inspections passed. The schools were shut down indefinitely.
During the time that our schools shut down we didn’t have plans in place for schooling. There were no online classes and teachers couldn’t give video lessons because the community was instead taking care of their families, stranded without a home, or cleaning the damage.
We were essentially stuck at home, socially distanced for several weeks. We couldn’t go to parks because downed trees and other debris covered them, and equipment was broken in the storm. We couldn’t go to indoor play spaces like trampoline parks and movie theaters because they also had damage and needed to assess the situation, fix what needed to be fixed and disinfect before they could reopen.
For five weeks my kids had no formal lessons. They didn’t do math, science, or social studies. There were no worksheets, websites, or tests. Instead, we played board games, did puzzles, read books for fun, took walks in the neighborhood and once enough debris was cleared we were able to start going outdoors.
And do you know what? Not a single one of them fell behind. When the schools reopened they adjusted the school year, added on instruction time where they could, and adjusted the curriculum.
We learned as a family and a community that we are stronger than we ever thought. We made memories and bonded together in ways they will never forget.
So, America. Do not worry that your children will be missing school for several weeks. If they are offering online classes, great! If not, do not fret and don’t feel like you need to suddenly come up with lesson plans for them and officially homeschool. They will be fine and will not fall behind. Instead, at this time, focus on family time and strengthening that bond.