School Closure During a Pandemic: How You Can Help

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March 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization characterizes COVD-19 as a pandemic.

On the same day, our school district sent an email stating, “Starting Monday, March 16th up to Monday, April 20th, instruction will be delivered for all students during the day while at home.”

I yelled out to my husband. “Am I reading this, right?”

After the initial shock started to wear, I was able to process the news. A month. A month? I’m a stay at home mom. I’m the mom who has countdowns to the first day of school. I’m currently overwhelmed when it is just my three-year-old at home. We only have a month of school left when they do go back. Heaven help me. I need to make sure my Zoloft does not run out.

Then I thought about my friends and those who rely on the schools to feed their children. While I am thankful for our district being proactive, I am concerned for those significantly impacted. We are all impacted, but some more than others.

Though I am a stay at home mom, I worked as a nurse. I worked full time at one point. I used to joke I would have to go to work if I didn’t have a pulse. The healthcare industry is not slowing down but instead heading towards chaos. Doctors, nurses, aides, and hospital employees certainly can’t call in. My friends in other job fields are finding themselves panicking over childcare. They got a long weekend’s notice.

Families rely on the schools to provide breakfast and lunch to their children, something many of us take for granted. While the school will continue to serve breakfast and lunch, transportation will be an issue.

To say my community is worrying would be an understatement. While some people don’t see COVID-19 as a significant threat and others are deeply concerned, there is concern over job loss, finding childcare, and for the children who find comfort and safety within their school. Burdens and uncertainty are hard for us all. No matter what your thought are on COVID-19, we are all unsure of what the future holds and the impacts.

Though two entirely different circumstances, I remember the lingering, unspoken weirdness, in the air, following September 11th, 2001. As a twenty-year-old, I remember the day and days after in detail. I spoke with people who were young children at the time. Though they don’t have much of a memory of that day, they recall feeling a sense something was off.

In these days in which life feels off and a bit scary, there is comfort in knowing the goodness in our world. We come together, bonded by our desire to help others.

Our school district, in northern Kentucky, is one of the many districts I know of closing for a month. In these challenging times, let’s broaden our village by helping any way we can.

How can you help?

Open your home to working parents.
Taking in more children may seem like a lot to the stay at home mom with enough craziness. Keep in mind this is not forever. My children behave better when other children are around. For me, it’s a win.

Offer to deliver food to those in need.
Our district will continue to provide food for take-out in the cafeterias. Transportation is not provided, leaving some families in a bind. A woman, on our neighborhood Facebook page, volunteered to deliver meals.

Volunteer to help a friend’s child with schoolwork.
I’m not going to lie. Math makes me cry. I’m lucky I have a husband who loves math and can explain better than I ever will. Simply offering to help a parent could lift a huge weight off their shoulders.

Check-in with your school.
Parents play a huge role behind the scenes. As teachers scramble to put together resources, packets, and information, they need extra hands. Our school is relying on volunteers to help make copies and assemble packets.

Be available to listen.
Sometimes all we need is a good vent. I imagine many of us are going to be struggling with anxiety, burn out, uncertainty, or chaos in rearranging schedules. Make time to call a friend or bring coffee.

It is in us, as parents, to want to help. Though it may not feel like you are doing much, in the grand scheme of things, watching a child or bringing a meal makes a huge difference to someone else.

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