When we went into lockdown in March 2020, Sam Mom didn’t think much of it at first. “I thought, OK, so maybe we’ll be home for a month, that’s not so bad.” Little did he know that life as we know it would change.
Sam’s first thoughts when the lockdown was announced weren’t about himself, he immediately started thinking about the students and families. “I had so many questions buzzing through my head,” he said. “What will happen with our youngest students? How will we get supplies to families? What about the 8th graders - their grades and high school transcripts?”
One memory of the early days of the pandemic that has stuck with Sam is the fear. “You just didn’t know what to think early on,” he said. “You didn’t know if the people around you were infected, you didn’t know if the things you touched were infected. I’ll never forget the Lysol pizzas I had during that time. I would spray the pizza box down with disinfectant before eating,” he laughed.
Those in our community who know Sam, know that he is very sociable and loves interaction with his coworkers, students, and parents. “Zoom just didn’t feel the same,” he lamented. Working from home also didn’t feel the same, so he continued to go in and work at his desk, even though all the meetings were virtual. “There was a very small group of us that continued to come in and we worked socially distanced in separate parts of the building.” Although the social distancing has been hard on him, it is the students he worries about the most. “I felt bad for the kids, it is so hard for them when they have to be at home and in school we have to keep reminding them to be careful when socializing,” he said. “Lunch is difficult because the kids have to remove their masks to eat, and lunch time is one of the students’ biggest times to socialize.”
Back to School
When the infant and toddler program opened in June 2020, Sam remembers being nervous for the parents, especially the new ones. “I really felt for the parents, having to hand their little ones over to people they didn’t know,” he said. “It must have been hard for them. We’re so used to having parents come into the building, especially in the Little School, and not having that has been a big adjustment.”
Like many in our community, this year, Sam’s has taken on extra responsibilities including lunch duty, morning drop off, teacher support in the classroom, and managing the intern program. “Everything this year has taken more coordination,” he said. In the past, I would simply arrange to meet a parent if they needed help signing a contract, or uploading a document, for example. But, this year I have to coordinate with them online and it adds another layer to what we do.”
Many people have takeaways from the way they have managed things during the pandemic that they may incorporate into their lives after life goes back to normal. For Sam, it was the process of checking new student IDs. “Checking new student IDs has always been challenging because we need to see the original documents in person. We have to send lots of reminders and follow up. Last year, I created a portal where I could upload a copy of the proof of ID form. We set a schedule when parents could drive by and show their ID and it worked great.”