Quarantine Chronicles: COVID-19, Distance Learning, and How I’m Dealing With it All

As most (many, all) of you know, much of the world is under quarantine because of COIVID-19. There is a lot of propaganda from all sides–at least here in America where everything must be driven by politics, else is cannot exist–that says this is a media hype created by the liberals, or an attempt for the conservatives to look good because they took action. And so much of this discourse is surrounding people and group thought, that the truth that people worldwide are getting very, very sick is going to the wayside.

So today I’m not going into all of the politics surrounding this issue. Today, I will only deal with the truth, and my truth. My experience is the only experience I am a true expert on; and it’s the only side of the story I can tell.

What this quarantine means for me is a lot of time away from work. I know I’ve kept is a major secret that I’m a teacher (aka not a secret at all). So while I am thankfully not economically impacted by this, this social distancing is impacting my job nonetheless.

I am a mega, super, giant extrovert. So I am first and foremost made really uncomfortable by staying home all the time. I require people. I require going out. I require attention (and lots of it), so being cooped up inside really puts a strain on my mental health. I feel lost without other people, which I’m sure is a ridiculous thing to say. But I do. I long for days with my coworkers. I long for a chance to see them face-to-face, to be in proximity. And they’re struggling too, as evidenced by our nonstop group texts.

But more importantly, I miss my students. I have had the world’s sweetest class this year. My students are compassionate, and have empathy for each other, and have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. They make what I do everyday worth it. They make it enjoyable. In general, my students are the reason I continue to go to work everyday. But this year’s students are a special group who all just clicked immediately.

The thing about this quarantine/ social distancing mandate/ whatever you want to call it is we were on Spring Break when everything fell apart. I didn’t get the chance to hug my students tight, remind them I love them, and that I’m available to them anytime they need through email. We were going to be gone for a week, and then return and write an essay and start preparing for the state standardized test. We weren’t given a heads up that before long we were all going to be living out our own worst Living Dead nightmares, fighting for toilet paper in the grocery store and being turned away at the salon for our eyebrow appointments. (Is that only me? That seems like it’d be more of a universal problem.)

We didn’t get the chance to tell our kids that everything is going to be okay. Because for the most part everything is going to be oaky. Yes, it’s going to be a rough few weeks. And sure, there’s a big possibility that schools is cancelled for the rest of the year, but in general, we are taking precautions to protect as many people as possible.

My wife is a doctor; she’s on the frontlines of all this, working in the hospital. She is feeling the effects of this in a very big way. I’m watching her friends and coworkers buckle under the pressure of struggling to be prepared and positive throughout this. I cannot imagine what doctors in Italy are experiencing, if this is what her cohorts are dealing with through the precautions and preparations.

So what am I doing to keep myself sane through this isolation?

I’m reading everything I can get my hands on. I’m painting more. I’m playing video games. I’m emailing my students and preparing online lessons for them. I posted a video in my Google Classroom just so they can hear my voice. I’m going to read aloud to them either through Zoom videos or prerecorded videos, I don’t know yet. I’m preparing to give them the same experience they would have gotten in my classroom. I’m doing everything in my power to not disrupt their learning.

I’m also writing more. I’ve worked on a new novel for the first time in ages. I’ve done research. I’ve worked on my podcast. I am using this time to be productive. It doesn’t replace the human interaction I’m missing so desperately, but it’s keeping me busy enough not to think about it.

So how are you holding up? What do things look like where you are? I hope everybody reading this is happy, healthy, and safe. Take care of yourselves.

The Plucky Reader

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