The coronavirus pandemic has brought much of the world to a virtual standstill.

That, of course, holds true for our public school system. As of now, per the order of Gov. Eric Holcomb, schools will be closed until at least May 1.

I would be surprised if we go back at all for this school year. When you read this, I will be in my 12th day of quarantine with at least another five weeks to go.

These are strange times, indeed. But I want to focus your attention on the positives of these unique circumstances in which we have suddenly found ourselves by pointing out how incredibly adaptive people can be. It’s rather astounding to see if you know where to look.

Just two weeks ago, our schools were operating under normal conditions. Yes, there was talk about the virus that had already had such an impact on other parts of the world and we all knew it was here, too. Yes, there were rumors that schools could be shut down for a couple weeks, but they were just rumors. The day-to-day operations of the schools were pretty much business as usual, with the possible exception of a lot more hand sanitizer being used. We left school on Thursday, March 12, expecting to return the next day. We haven’t been back since.

What happened overnight was remarkable. We found a way. We always find a way. Thanks to the leadership of our public school systems, contingency plans were immediately executed. We were told to expect this situation to be fluid, that there would be bumps along the way that we would all work together to overcome. E-learning plans were created and pushed out to students. Teachers learned to use new electronic resources like Zoom, which allow us to record video lessons that students can access from home. Students without internet access had mobile hotspots made available to them. Plans were put in place for the many families who rely heavily upon school food service for meals, so they are still able to get them. Understand that most of these plans did not exist before this. They were put together under extreme duress and they have, for the most part, worked amazingly well.

I have also seen teachers stepping up to offer child care for kids whose parents have no other alternative. I’ve seen teachers and some college students who are home offer their tutoring services, many free of charge. I have seen social media posts from a multitude of parents now forced into the role of homeschool teacher/tutor relaying their appreciation for the job we teachers do with their kids.

If something positive can come from e-learning, it might just be that parents will become more actively engaged in the studies of their children and perhaps help them develop better habits. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Times of crisis often bring out the very best in us. I hope we will emerge from this one with a greater appreciation for one another.

Shane Phipps is an author and teacher in Indianapolis. Contact him at shphipps@gmail.com

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