by Erica Zimmerman
When schools dismissed in March to allow all adults and children to follow the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” emergency orders, only the buildings closed. Teachers, parents and students all had to open their minds and toolboxes to find new ways to reach each other. For some, it was a daily struggle to maintain digital connectivity; for others it was hard to keep students organized and motivated for their daily responsibilities. Parents and teachers struggled to keep their work and family lives in balance. Faculty and administrators reached out with various approaches; in many cases their goals streamlined around the most important task of keeping students connected with their learning and with the adults who care about them. Our schools call themselves “learning communities” — perhaps never before has this been true as all sorts of outreach developed to keep students and teachers learning together but apart…
With doors closed, schools take to the roads of Washington County!
As we all know, schools and roads are both central to how our rural towns operate. While we might all have learned to Zoom during the past few months, our connections weren’t all virtual. Schools took to the roads to deliver many of their services to children. Our school buses shifted to delivering daily meals to hundreds of households — coolers dotted the roadways, school staff of all stripes jumped onboard with food service and busdrivers to create a daily delivery service, and children looked forward to daily meals that fed both body and soul.
As our knowledge grew about virus safety, our school libraries developed protocols so they could resume their book loans. Soon hundreds of books flowed between schools and homes. How did they manage this? In most cases, the books rode the buses with the lunches!
In Worcester, where buses can’t travel all the way up the smallest roads and books couldn’t stand out in the weather alongside the lunch coolers, Doty Principal Gillian Fuqua drove books right to students’ homes.
And as spring progressed in all of our towns, the mud dried but the tears flowed as teachers took to the roads to parade past all their students’ homes. Flags and balloons and honking let all the kids know how much they were missed!