So Long, Schools.

If you’re like me and you were the parent designated to pick up your child’s belongings at school this week, you probably did it with a super heavy heart… walking in, told to wash your hands, grab a bag, grab your child’s things, and walk out.

On the outside, I greeted the staff with a smile, but on the inside I was doing a whole lot of self-talking, just to keep my composure. I also kept the eye contact to a minimum because I just didn’t want to engage in conversation and start weeping like a freggin’ baby.

There’s something really strange about seeing an elementary school — normally packed with happy, screaming children on a Thursday morning — suddenly deserted. It was eerily quiet. The fact that every person in the building had to stay 2 metres apart also made the whole process that much more surreal.

I walked to my three-year-old daughter’s pre-school class and it was too quiet. I didn’t like it. Didn’t like it one bit. The lights were off and all the little chairs were piled up on top of the tables.

Then I went into my five-year-old’s classroom and saw her pile of stuff, neatly organized on her tiny table. I just stood there for a second and looked around. Class projects half done; the date of the last day of class, still up on the board. Everything abandoned overnight.

Hard to believe I was just in there last week, helping students assemble a fruit salad. It was such a fun morning – minus the part where the kids were risking limbs, trying to chop with dull knives. All I kept thinking was ‘this can’t end well.’

Anyways, with so much uncertainty around the length of the school closures, part of me wishes they had instructed us to just leave everything ‘as is’… just press pause and put things on hold. I know that’s not realistic but it would have made it feel less… final.

This far into the school year, friendships have been formed, routines have been established and bonds with teachers have been made. It’s so hard to wrap your head around such an abrupt ending.

I didn’t see anyone crying today, but I know there were tears across the city!! So many of you commented about your own experience, after I posted a photo on Instagram.

You told me about principals tearing up at the front door. Teachers shared their struggles to fight back tears. Parents admitted to crying while pulling a wagon full of supplies, or sobbing silently in the car after leaving the school. I get it. I did it too!

Later this afternoon though, we found out that Alberta has recorded its first COVID-19 death. The sadness I felt earlier about losing a school year, has quickly shifted to sadness for this man’s family. Puts things in perspective doesn’t it? And it serves as a powerful reminder of why it’s so important to self isolate. It might not feel right to gather our children’s belongings, but it’s the right thing to do.

And I’m hoping things will feel a bit more ‘normal’ for all of us when the learning starts back up again online. At least my girls will get to see their teachers again… minus the high fives and the hugs.

Stay safe everyone!