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It’s Not About You

Last night was the first night where I lost sleep about what’s going on in the world.

Thursday seems like a lifetime ago, when students were asking, half-jokingly, half-seriously, if they would close schools due to the novel virus which is sweeping the country.

At the time, I will admit, I rationalized away their concerns – partly because I had not accepted the scope of what was happening, and partly because how I was choosing to deal with what was going on was with my typical *head in the sand* strategy.

When a fellow teacher told me that Governor Whitmer was going to speak at 11pm, I shrugged my shoulders and went to bed – we would have school.

I was wrong. I woke up to the announcement that schools would, in fact, be closed effectively immediately – for THREE WHOLE WEEKS.

In light of CoVid19, all MI schools CLOSE.

On Friday, I did my best to keep any school-related questions to a minimum, realizing that the one thing we all had in common was just the massive uncertainty we were all grappling with:

  • What would be the expectations for students and staff alike when it comes to remote learning?
  • How about standardized testing in April?
  • What did this mean for our seniors graduating in June?

(My friend/colleague, Ms. Kubicek, shared her thoughts after the news broke.)

Amy Fast tweets about schools as communities.

I tried, and failed, to keep other questions at bay:

  • How are we going to address loss-of-income (I have no savings account)?
  • Will my parents be safe/stuck in France?
  • What does this mean for my sisters, both of whom work in healthcare?

A lot of students, at-first, reacted to school closings with the same glee as when a snow day is announced, but, try-as-I-may, i could not find any glee – only dread.

As always, the internet provided its usual blend of information and distractions.

Having been in the red all week, I did not have the opportunity to “prepare” by going to the grocery store earlier this week, so come Friday *PAYDAY* – it was “too” late: Right or wrong, I would not sacrifice my sanity/mental health by subjecting myself to the chaos of panic. (Don’t worry – I won’t starve.)

And speaking of mental health – I have serious qualms about the next four weeks. Human beings are social animals. Isolation is not natural or healthy. I don’t know about you, but I clocked a lot of hours on Saturday on my phone, and that is NOT how I want to spend the next four weeks. My anxiety has already physically manifested itself in stomach and back pains. Don’t get me started on what being hug-deficient is going to do to me.

I tried distracting myself by planning for the remote learning which will start on Monday – but the absolute anxiety about not being able to reach all my students overwhelmed me. (Shout-out to the students who helped by re-posting my plea on their IG stories, Snap, and iMessage.) I will not waste time being angry at myself for not knowing how to do cooler, more engaging stuff online – but rather focus on the practicalities.

The plan for today is to make a schedule for myself, one that includes eating right, going outside, movement, petting my cats, planning for remote learning, and minimizing time on my phone. The Neuropsychology & Education Services for Children & Adolescents recommends creating a schedule in order to make the most of kids’ time during these school closures.

If you are like me – it’s hard to wrap your mind around things unless you understand the WHY. Here it is:

GRAPH from U of M depicting the urgency of taking action to stop the spread.

You know who I am staying home for? The Zahraa Alasadis of the world. And you should too.  

Thanks for reading. – Mx. Sabbagh

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