As we begin the school year in the same way we finished school in the Spring, how we prepare and use the lessons we learned can make the experience better than before. To all our kids, enjoy this school year! May what you learn this year in class, at home, and about yourself help you throughout your life. There is a middle school in Massachusetts that gave students an assignment to write a poem about their Distance/Quarantine classroom. Here is one of those poems:
By Areti Tigianidis
How quickly life changes from a normal routine
Where waking up in the morning and having a productive day is guaranteed
The time says 8:00 and so does the light from the sun
But now when I wake up it’s hard to tell if the day has begun
My desk is the dining room table where I sit across from my brother
Where we don’t have to get up to go from one class to another
We go to every class together, which is different from school
Though we are on our own schedule and that’s pretty cool
Getting work done is very straight forward
But there are no funny interruptions, laughs or pats on the back to make it a reward
Doing school online is a lot like summer
It is more relaxing and flexible almost like it’s school but undercover
I never thought that this would be my reality
But then again anything can happen and that’s part of the world’s actuality
As we continue our time apart it can feel like things will not get better. I have done some reading that brought me a feeling of renewal and hope. Below is my summary of a blog post by Rabbi Niles Elliot Goldstein titled “40 days and 40 nights: What the Bible can teach us about quarantine.”
The word quarantine comes from quarantena or “40 days” in the Venetian language. It was used during the Black Death epidemic during the 14th and 15th centuries, referring to the period that ships had to be isolated before passengers and crew could go ashore. Long before this there were stories in the Old Testament about quarantines lasting 40 days and 40 nights. Noah self-isolated with his family in a wooden ark during the flood. Moses separated himself from Israelites and went up to Mt. Sinai where he received the Ten Commandments. Elijah fled into the desert and secluded himself in a cave until he received direction from God.
All these people in the Bible made the choice to isolate. They were not required by those in power. They made voluntary decisions responding to a crisis. They came out of their social distancing when the crisis had passed, but in the process, they themselves were transformed. As the rainbow appeared after the flood, Noah, his family, and the animals emerged into a new world where Noah became the father. Moses returned with the Ten Commandments and forgave the sins of his people, having gained knowledge and understanding. Elijah hears the still, small voice of God and returns with a new calmness and an understanding of spirituality and divine communication.
We have been sheltered in place for more than 40 days, but the good news is there will come a time when we will emerge from our quarantine. We too can be transformed by our experience. This is a time when we are bombarded with news from around the world, some hurtful and some that brings joy. Each of us has also changed. When we emerge from our isolation, how we choose to deal with the world and people around us with the knowledge we have gained will determine the transformation in the world, the country, the state, the city, and in our homes. How will you respond? With compassion? With bravery? With a new passion for service to others? With kindness to the world around you? What we do will define our world.
“You’re off to great to great places. Today is your first day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!” – Dr. Seuss
“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” – Malcom X