The Lead Up to a Statewide School Shutdown

March 30, 2020

The Lead Up to a Statewide School Shutdown

In early-to-mid-March when things really started hitting the fan, I’d already been off work for three weeks due a personal leave that was supposed to last until 3/27/2020. Around that time, reports about the pandemic were really ramping up in the US. More states were announcing cases of residents becoming ill. States were trying to figure out what should be done with businesses and schools- should they remain open or close. I remember I had gotten a text from a teacher-friend. My friend asked if I thought the district would close. I replied that I didn’t know. During our conversation, I had compared this current pandemic to the one in 2009. I remember it. I recalled that [back then] we didn’t shut things down, so I couldn’t imagine us shutting things down now. Not that it wouldn’t or couldn’t happen. Just that, if the last pandemic was any indicator, it just didn’t seem like things would go that way. Another thing I recall from my text exchange with my friend was this thought of (I think I even texted this), “What makes this one -this time- so different from before?” It wasn’t a rhetorical or flippant question, either. I truly wondered. That lack of clarity left me with uncertainty.  


My district had teacher workshop day on Friday, 3/13, so students were off. That morning, I had missed a 6 am call from the district. There wasn’t a snowstorm brewing so I knew the voicemail would be related to the pandemic. The voicemail stated that districtwide, workshop day and school that following Monday was cancelled due to a possible exposure of COVID-19. I don’t think there was any exposure in one of our schools. I believe it was a situation where somebody who is connected to the district, may have been exposed to someone who was exposed to someone who might have coronavirus. All of our sites were disinfected that weekend as a precaution.


By Sunday 3/15, the governor had announced that statewide all schools would need to close by Wednesday 3/17. The plan was for schools to reopen by 3/27. The very thing I’d been asked days earlier by a teacher-friend, the very scenario I couldn’t fathom, was actually happening.