Stay Away From Me!

Class project for remote teaching China first graders

My first graders are going to embark in a fun project this week. Social distancing hats. The idea was born in a Chinese public school, when a first-grade teacher wanted her students to remember social distancing.

As they cut flowers out with paper and transform toilet paper rolls into works of art, Americans will continue to die at a rate of one per minute, still not understanding that man is at the mercy of nature.

My 9th grade students got the blessing from the Chinese government to return to my classroom. I was zoomed in and saw four of my smiling students. Well, I think they were smiling. They each had on a face mask, half the desks emptied from the room to allow for safe distancing.

I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. It was an eerie glimpse of how I left my classroom in January for what I thought would be a short vacation in Laos. Old assignments were still scribbled on the white board. A stack of workbooks needed to be graded. Student masks (pictured) were hanging on the back wall, an eerie premonition of the covid-19 face coverings my zoomed in students had on their faces.

I tried to hold back tears.

Stella, my partner in crime, went into my apartment to gather things to ship back to the states. She brought her phone so I could instruct her where to snoop for things on my scavenger list. Top items? My driver’s license and voter’s registration.

My heart skipped a few beats as she wandered in my lifeless unit. It too looked like an apocalyptic scene, my bed hastily made, scribbles of paper around my computer.

I hope things will return to normal in the fall that our hats are off, that classrooms are open and world citizens work together to beat this virus.

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