"One Year Ago Today," a Recollection of the Events of March 13th, 2020
Fourth grade teacher at Holmes Elementary, Mrs. Berry, shared with us a picture of what her class room looked like the day her and her students left school.
“One Year Ago Today,” March 13th, 2020.
By Anna McLean, Evien Berry, and Emily Batka
March 13th was a significant day for everyone in our community. The abruptness of the situation at hand (COVID-19) took us all by surprise. As a kind of ode to the pandemic, and 2020 as a whole, The Laker Anchor staff have put together a “One Year Ago Today” insight into our peers’ and teachers’ recollections of the confusion and chaos they felt that day.
Sarah Sevener, 10th Grade
1 year, 365 days, 525,600 minutes, 31,536,000 seconds, and a lifetime of change. Since March 13, 2020, the lives of all around the world have drastically changed. In the midst of a global pandemic, there is much to reminisce on. So, let's go back to the beginning. March 13. Personally, I know I will never forget that day. Everyone was laughing in the hallways, saying “see you in two weeks!”, unbeknownst to what was right around the corner. Quickly, the two weeks passed and there was still no school. In the news, death and infection were everywhere. Hospitals were overflowing, and cases were on the rise. Quarantine brought on nature hikes, new trends, and cabin fever. On April 2, it was announced that we were not returning to school. Shortly after, the cancellation of sports was announced. Heartbroken seniors, athletes, and students mourned the loss of their final spring trimester. It all seemed to happen so fast. Sudden “stay at home” orders and isolation unlike anything our tight-knit community had ever seen became the new normal. One by one, businesses began to require masks, and social distancing began to be a socially accepted term. Most of the spring was spent like this - isolated and living in an upside-down reality. It’s almost as if we have lived two lives; the pre-covid, and the new “normal”...
Mr. Furton, SLPS Superintendent
Similarly to my memories of April 20, 1999 (Columbine) and 9/11/2001, when I reflect back to the morning of March 13, 2020, I’m first struck by how this awful and historic event was unfolding right in front of our eyes and we didn’t have a playbook with which to respond. We didn’t know how long we’d be away from in-person learning and hadn’t put a lot of time into developing a distance learning plan. Secondly, I recall how this uncertainty was so clearly overlaid with emotional tension ranging from disbelief to apprehension to fear.
Finally, I remember how the Laker staff calmly and professionally answered the challenge. Everyone pulled together, with some showing readiness to help and support, while others showed vulnerability so that we knew who needed help with virtual teaching. It was pretty inspiring to see both of those reactions. Early into the shut down, I recognized that primary focus had become to set a reassuring tone and to communicate clearly and concisely.
Mr. Gilchrist, SLHS Principal
“A lot of people, including I, didn’t foresee that we would spend the rest of the school year online. We were all planning to bounce back and did not anticipate the length of time that we would be in quarantine for.” No teacher had really been trained to do school remotely without the physical contact and emotional aspect of school. So, during the summer, teachers took lessons and trained over the summer to be more prepared for the next school year and are now significantly better at doing remote learning with students. I had to personally go out into classrooms and measure out the six feet and see what students had to be contact-traced.” My priority this past year has been making sure students are safe and dealing with the significant increase in challenges due to COVID-19.
The more people are vaccinated, and are taking proper precautions, the higher the possibility that we will have fewer restrictions next year. That would include getting rid of plexiglass, having two instead of three lunches, and bringing back dances (we would still have masks of course). With all the restrictions it’s harder to get that social or emotional part of school, like seeing people smile or being able to read and see facial expressions.
Overall, with everything that's been going on this year, the community, the teachers, and the students have all had grace and been resilient.”
Katie Scott, 7th Grade
I remember walking into school in early March of last year. Everything was the same way it had been the morning before. I discreetly made my way through the hallway to my locker. The hallway was very loud and full of activity. Sounds of laughter and chatter could be heard. Another day was to begin.
The first half of the day was normal, everything I would’ve expected, until science class. Once the bell rang, my science teacher walked into the classroom and started to run normal early-science-class procedures. Then, she said that she had an announcement. She said that the school would be shut down on Friday, March 13th and the year was to be finished remotely, due to unfortunate circumstances. All the news, the new procedures, was quite a lot to take in at one sitting. She brought up a disease - Coronavirus, or better-known as COVID-19, a disease I would soon never forget...
Skyler Henshaw, 11th Grade
I remember it started as a slight murmur of the schools closing. It was hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that we were going to be home for two weeks, and then we’d also get spring break for another week. I thought it was completely crazy for us to be home doing our own work and not in school. Besides the uncertainty of how the school was going to run online, I was just excited. How often do schools all of the sudden go online without any real direction? I was excited to be able to be home, sleep in, and do whatever I want. I wanted to believe that the school was going to reopen after spring break, I was almost sure we would; but, then Governor Whitmer put out a statement saying that schools will continue to be closed. Eventually, my hope of returning to school fizzled away. Now, I’m happy to be back to in-person learning, even when we have the fear of going back online looming over us.
Mrs. Brewer, 7th & 8th Grade Teacher
March 13, 2020. Really, that entire day is a blur. I think I found out about the governor closing the schools for three weeks not long after I walked into school that morning. It was a complete shock. There were many more questions in my head than answers. Does this mean we’re all at risk? What do I tell our students? How do I answer any questions? How do I plan for weeks of remote instruction when I’ve never done that before?
I spent the school day with my brain toggling among three places: giving some sort of meaningful instruction to my students, preparing for the next two to three weeks of uncertainty, and worrying about the health of my family, our community, our state, and our nation.
As the lockdown progressed, the weight of uncertainty and concern remained. It still does. However, there are moments- glimpses- of a bright future. They come in the form of moments once taken for granted; smiling eyes above the masks, plans for trips in 2022, and the laughter of my children.
Zoe Dull, 8th Grader
A day to remember. We went to school for the last time. We didn't know for how long, or if we would come back, but we knew something big was happening. We sat through all six classes going through online school plans and procedures. I remember my friend Claire and I stood up through a whole class joking that we didn't want to get COVID-19 from sitting in a chair someone else had used. Little did we know that a year from then we'd be in the same situation, but with plexiglass between us, and sanitized desks every hour. On March 13th, 2020, we thought it was cool to be leaving school early. We thought that COVID-19 was a joke, and not serious. Yet COVID-19 has dramatically changed our lives, and everyone else's. COVID-19 is definitely not a joke. On March 13th, 2020, we were thinking, YES! Early Summer! But, little did we know, summer would be full of quarantining and COVID-19 tests. Birthdays would be drive-bys, and Thanksgiving and Christmas would be on Zoom.
Mrs. Greene, First Grade Teacher
We found out the previous night from the local news that our governor signed an executive order closing all schools beginning Monday, March 16th until April 5th. We were in shock and disbelief. Every year is different, but this was definitely new territory for us.
Friday was chaos: planning for the next two weeks, gathering desk materials, making copies, packing iPads and chargers, pulling just-right books for each child, and quickly reviewing with students how to use Seesaw (our learning platform we would be using to stay connected with our students).
All of this while also trying to teach in a way we had no training or experience and maintain a sense of normalcy for our first graders. It was a Friday, which is always a flexible day, which was a blessing. With two of us sharing a class, one of us attended to the students and the other scurried around trying to plan for the uncertainty of the next couple of weeks.
Our class had a lot of questions...some of those being the same questions we had ourselves: What IS the Coronavirus? Will I get sick? We tried to assure the children they were safe, and that everything would be okay even though we were just as anxious as they were.
Little did we know that this two week “pause” would turn into the rest of the school year, we wouldn’t see our “kids” in person in school again, and a year later we would still not be back to normal.
Mrs. Johnson, 5th Grade Teacher
The days leading up to the shutdown, I remember talking about the Coronavirus with other teachers. My thoughts focused on how it was impacting other countries, and I naively believed it wouldn’t reach us. Then colleges and universities began shutting down. Thursday evening, I heard Governor Whitmer would be addressing the state on the 11:00 news. I stayed up to hear what she had to say. It shocked me to hear that all schools would be shutting down as of March 16th. I had a hard time sleeping that night, and knew there were many teachers who wouldn’t hear of the news until the morning.
On Friday, March 13th, I frantically taught the students things I thought they needed to know to get us through the next two weeks. I had no idea how to teach online (I sure have learned a lot in a year!). The students were worried about what would happen, and a lot of time was spent reassuring them that it was only going to be a couple of weeks. We would see each other soon. The students left that day with their overstuffed backpacks, unaware that they would not step back into the building as a fifth grade student. I left that day thinking about all that needed to be figured out to virtually meet with my students and how to turn their lessons for the next two weeks into something they could do online.
When I finally returned to the intermediate school in June, it felt like a ghost town. All of the bulletin boards were decorated with “March Is Reading Month” themes. The building was frozen in time. That day, students somberly came back to school during their assigned time to collect the winter clothing and materials left behind in their lockers. It was an eerie feeling, and trying to smile under our masks and sound positive was a challenge. It was very heartbreaking, especially because I am a hugger. I couldn’t high-five, knuckle bump, or hug my students goodbye. There was no celebration of the conclusion of a school year and start of summer.
Madeline Vink, 5th Grader
I do not remember much from March 13, 2020, but I do know that I had some weird feeling in my gut the day before. My teacher made us slowly pack up all of our stuff for online schooling and I was constantly running up and down the hallway to get things from the printer. I was so confused until she explained what we would be doing the next day. Once I heard what was happening, I was for once in my life quiet, shut up with many thoughts running through my head: My life is cancelled, I will be stuck with my sisters (UGH), when will I be able to see my friends again? We had to do so many practice Zooms. Our classroom was as loud as a construction sight with kids non stop talking to friends or our teacher. It was most likely the most stressful day EVER!!!!!! It felt like there were so many people in the classroom even though there were only 9 of us. Thinking about this now just makes me feel stressed, overwhelmed, and challenged. I hope to NEVER have to relive that day ever again. 2 weeks of the promised online-learning turned into the rest of the year, sadly.
Klara Davidson, 5th Grade
I felt sad that I was going to leave all of my friends, but I thought it was only going to be two weeks so it wouldn’t be that bad. But as time went by, I soon realized we wouldn’t go back. That made me angry, mad, frustrated, and annoyed all because a person was scared. I was scared too; I know everyone was. Nothing like this has happened since the Spanish flu. Here is what I realized: everyone was a little bit scared, from your hero to a 3 year old, so it's okay to be scared but it's not okay to let being scared overpower you. I get it was scary but back then I thought differently from others. I literally thought I got an extra long summer. Once I realized that we were in lock down I was devastated. All you could do was play outside, go to school, Zoom, and, of course, play video games. I got to admit it was fun at first, no school for a few weeks, but then I realized no more taekwondo, no more playing with neighborhood friends, no more interacting. So what you could have also learned from this is appreciate your friends and family because you can lose them just like that. Lots of lives were lost, gone forever in the past.
On March 13, 2020 I remember when my teacher Mrs. Berry told the class that we were going on lock down for the next 2 weeks. We did some work, but mostly we packed up all of our stuff and talked with one another until lunch-recess. All of the kids in my class were excited for two weeks off of school, but we still had to do some school work every day on the two weeks off of school. I was thinking: why? Why did we have to go on lock-down because of a silly cold? I was feeling a little sad because I had to leave all my friends for two weeks! I was also happy because NO SCHOOL FOR 2 WEEKS! At recess I played kickball and my team won and almost got a home run! I was also imagining that we had two more weeks off of school because of COVID-19 and it happened! Before the bell rang I gave my friends a big hug and said goodbye. When the bell rang everyone hugged Mrs. Berry and walked out the door.
Frank Reeser, 5th Grader
On March 13, 2020, my 4th grade Mrs. Lannon teacher told my class that we were going online for 2 weeks. Little did we know that we would be online for the rest of the year. Our teacher showed us a website that explained what COVID-19 was and that we should wash our hands for 20 seconds. It was a hassle getting all of my stuff out of my desk. I had papers and folders and pencils everywhere. Another thing we did was take a picture of our schedule for school so that we would know what subjects to do in order from home. My thoughts at the time were: “Yes, I don’t have to go to school but i still have to do school work but not as much.” At the end of the school day it was cold but after I got off the bus I ran like a maniac home. It felt like going into winter break. I didn’t even care that it was like 4 degrees out or that we still had to do schoolwork. I was happy to be off for 2 weeks and to this day (only a year later) I am glad that we were online for the rest of the year.