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Empty schools, kids at home

As community shuts down, it can be a time of connecting, reflecting

By Larry Stombaugh
For the Clemmons Courier

I was flipping channels at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 14, when the TV screen showed an image of Governor Roy Cooper behind a podium. Soon, a banner appeared as he was talking that summed up the theme of his press conference: “Governor closes all public schools in North Carolina.”

After cancellations of athletic events, concerts and community events around the state due to the coronavirus outbreak, Governor Cooper’s announcement seemed inevitable. But, as someone who spent most of my life as a high school classroom teacher, the scene seemed surreal.

It is the time of the school year when elementary school playgrounds are filled with laughing children at recess who are enjoying a break from time in their classrooms and when middle and high school students are enjoying the rites of spring that include the release of the school yearbook, SAT tests and spring sports. Although, most students of all ages are probably elated to have an early spring break, it is tragic that that they could miss out on events and memories such as their high school prom that we adults cherish.

Things do not seem right in the world when school parking lots are empty on a weekday and there is not the familiar scene of school buses running in the early hours of the morning and in mid-afternoon. Life is quieter and traffic is lighter this week, but the world will be a better place when high school proms hopefully do take place and graduations are celebrated in large gathering places.

All of us are inconvenienced in various ways by the “collective quarantine” that we are experiencing. In addition to the shutdown of schools, most church services have been canceled and there are few entertainment or community events to attend. Virtually, all of them that were scheduled through April have been postponed or canceled.

Perhaps, the next few weeks can be a time for connecting and reflection. The whirlwind of activity has slowed down for an occurrence beyond our control. There will be no baseball games, track practices, or dance recitals. We will be spending more time with our families inside the walls of our homes. Maybe that is not such a bad thing. While we have been advised to keep “social distancing” in public, maybe we can practice social bonding with our spouses and children.   ��