When the coronavirus outbreak started in March of last year, our school year came to an abrupt end. No end of the year parties, dances or graduations. The school year just ended and our students were just sent home. The summer was filled with anticipation, speculation of possibilities and anxiety of the unknown; I was scared. We could be teaching virtually, teaching hybrid, or teaching in person. Teachers were given online classes on how to use Zoom, how to use Google classroom, and how to film online lessons. The school board didn’t know what we would be doing, and we didn’t know how we would be teaching. We were told to prepare for any and every scenario and again, I was scared.
It was announced in July that Lafayette Parish would be teaching in person, and it was a relief. I teach French Immersion to Pre-K students; teaching online was not going to work for me and my students. We got our classrooms ready and showed up in August and were told about all the additional responsibilities and procedures we would be following for this year. My 4 year old students would be wearing masks to school everyday, walking 6 feet apart, eating separately, playing separately and not sharing toys. Anxiety filled my heart and again, I was scared.
Now, here we are in May 2021, and this school year is coming to an end. All of the things I worried about in August actually were not a worry at all. The kids followed the new guidelines and procedures with ease. My 4 year old students wore their face masks without hesitation or complaint; these kids shined. And instead of the restrictions separating us, they actually brought us closer together.
Last week, one of my students came up to me, hugged me tight and whispered, “I love you with all my heart,” and I could feel that she really meant it. This class is the one I have been the closest to in all my years of teaching, and the kids in my class are closer to each other. I watch my students help each other, cheer their friends up, and truly love each other. We became a family this year; we faced the unknown and new together, and we are stronger because of it. I will remember all the conversations, artwork, jokes and laughs. I will always remember how these kids made me feel and how much I loved them.
To my COVID class, I am so proud of each and every one of you. You have taught me that the things that matter most in life are the little moments and the ones you spend them with. You have taught me that laughter is the best medicine and loving each other is all we really need to feel safe and be happy.