200 Days

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Missing school – a sense of loss

With the rapid pace of our national news cycle, it was easy to miss a major milestone our state reached last week.
Sept. 29, 2020 marked the 200th day since Gov. Jay Inslee closed schools due to the coronavirus. On March 13, 2020, Gov. Inslee issued an executive order shutting down all public schools in our state for six weeks. At the time many of us thought we’d make the best of it for the rest of the school year, then return to normal in the Fall.
But for a host of complicated reasons that hasn’t happened.
So here we are over 200 days later. Public school buildings in Washington are still mostly closed for in-person learning. Tentative plans to re-open them in some districts for a limited amount of instruction have been paused because rates of transmission have started to go back up.The things we missSchool is more than just a place we send our children each day. It’s a community of friends, traditions and connections. In speaking with families, educators and community members, there’s a palpable sense of loss.
We miss the ebb and flow of routines that navigate us through the days, weeks and months of the season that is school. Kids wearing shorts on warm days at the bus stop. Kids still wearing shorts on cooler, rainy days but with the hood on their hoodie up, because this is the Pacific Northwest. New backpacks fading to worn out ones. Running down the sidewalk home at the end of the day.
We miss clubs. Robotics, chess, recycling, yearbook, the student newspaper. And so many others. A wise high school principal once said, no student ever grows up to be an English class. They need opportunities to find their passion through clubs and activities. That’s how they figure out if they want to be a journalist or an engineer or a marine biologist.
We miss music, drama, art and everything that goes with that. Performances, rehearsals, coming in early or staying late after school. Proud displays of final projects. Selling tickets for school plays.
We miss sports. The practices, team meals, games, and the online sign-ups for volunteers. We may even miss the foul-smelling odors from gym bags that haven’t been emptied for a few days (or more).
And most of all, we miss hanging out with our friends. In class. At lunch. On the playground. Before and after school.Any time.
School districts and educators are working hard to make remote learning a positive experience for our children. We are grateful for everything they do.
One day we’ll all be together again, but most days it’s hard not knowing when that will happen. When it does, maybe one unintended benefit from all this chaos will be that we won’t take the little things for granted.