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  • Writer's pictureKatie Powell

I Went to My Classroom Today...

I don't think any of us expected it to be like this.

Wednesday night, March 11, I walked into my bedroom, where my husband was watching basketball, and said, "I bet my brother's going to be calling any minute now." My brother is a high school teacher in the northwestern corner of our state.

Moments later, a text came across my screen. "Are you scared?" it said. My brother and I watched that evening's events unfold together and speculated what would be next. Both of us agreed we'd be lucky to make it to spring break (3/23). In fact, we agreed we would probably close Monday the 16.

The next day, Thursday the 12th, my colleagues and I met together informally first thing in the morning to teach eachother whatever we knew that might help us teach virtually successfully. Our superintendent had been notifying staff and parents of the potential for a physical closure, just in case. The speculation at that point was that we would close after spring break, likely starting 3/30. I still had that sneaking suspicion, though, we'd be lucky to make it to Monday the 16th.

Our principal met with us briefly the following morning to explain what he knew and that he'd be having a meeting with our upper admin later that morning. We went about our business, administering NWEA testing, until the email came through. Starting Monday the 16th, we'd be on a week of elearning, set to return to school the Monday after spring break.

We prepped students on the extended elearning plan. We made sure they took their Chromebooks and chargers home and told them to enjoy their long break. We gathered our belongings and hit the door. I met with our team for dinner that night, and the next day, we worked together in a classroom, helping each other get our plans prepped for the week.

That turned out to be the last time I left my home, until today. In the week and a half since then, our governor has closed all schools until at least May 1, cancelled our state test, and most recently issued a stay-at-home order that starts tonight.

It's been little more than a week.

But everything's changed.

Some day accounts like this, our stories, will be the primary sources future generations learn about the COVID-19 pandemic through. My story is not unique. Many of yours read just like this.

We all knew something was coming.

Did we know it would be like this?

Today I went to my classroom for the first time since Friday the 13th to prepare for the statewide stay-at-home order. I gathered anything I may need to finish out the year. When I got to the top of the steps and hit my hallway, my eyes filled with tears. Those lockers, shining a bit in the dark hallway, were still decorated for all the extra-curricular activities our students didn't know they were truly leaving behind. My classroom computer sill had the YouTube videos my children were watching as I finished up that late afternoon, Friday the 13th. A stack of papers we'd just pulled down from the bulletin board is still on my counter.

When we all left that building a little more than a week ago, we didn't know we were saying goodbye.

We thought we'd be back.

Now, don't get me wrong. We've been an impressive force, figuring out how to reach our students virtually. Great things are still happening.

But that empty classroom, those lonely lockers, boy, they still hurt.

We thought we'd be back.

For those of you who thought you'd be back, too, my heart is with you.

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