“We’ve never had a spring break longer than one week, and now we have three! Thanks, corona!”
This is one of the many messages of joy posted on social media after Gov. Mike DeWine announced that all K-12 schools throughout Ohio will close for three weeks beginning Monday, March 16.
But this is not a time we should be celebrating.
By celebrating the mandated closure as if we are having extra weeks off for break, we are also unconsciously celebrating the deaths of almost 5,000 people around the world, as well as the extreme fear immunosuppressed people are facing at this moment.
While some students will be enjoying their time by going out and traveling, others have to be secluded in their homes without the option to leave. There are students right now who fear going to school and being around their friends, because they are worried for their lives.
And although you may have the comfort of food and shelter 24 hours a day, not all students do. There are homeless students enrolled in our district, and celebrating these extra weeks off is disrespectful to those that lack the privileges you have.
Students with the need for special education and individualized lesson plans will be put in an unfortunate spot without face to face contact with their supervisors and mentors. This school cancelation affects them greatly.
The cancelation is also going to affect students at risk of not graduating or moving onto the next grade. The lack of one-on-one instruction can derail a student’s education, because some rely on conferences every day. Not being in a classroom as the April End of Course exams approach can be stressful, even frightening.
Not everyone has a parent who can stay home with their children, especially those in elementary and middle schools. Parents have no option except to leave work and risk unemployment, or stay at work and worry about getting a new babysitter.
Students who cannot access WiFi at home can also feel anxiety setting in. If school work is being turned in online, and the student does not have WiFi, what will they do? If public places are beginning to close, will the library — which has free Wifi — follow suit? If not, how will students get there if they are unable to drive, or do not have a parent who is home to take them?
These situations are not the only ones that can occur; there are more that can arise, and they are unfortunately not uncommon.
During his March 12 press conference, DeWine said, “We are announcing today that children in the state will have an extended spring break. The spring break will be the duration of three weeks, and we will review it at the end of that.” His unfortunate language brings up more questions than celebrations. Is it a break, or is it a school closing? Will teachers still assign work during the two canceled weeks?
For the next three weeks, pay attention to your surroundings and stop acting as if missing nine days of instructional learning is something to celebrate.
Instead of celebrating, we should take this time to become more conscious of our habits and begin to change them for the wellbeing of everyone. This doesn’t mean that panic and fear should set in as we head into our three-week closure. Through practicing awareness for ourselves and those around us, we can find the compassion and strength needed to support others.