Life feels far more quarantined now. Seeing people out and about starts to feel weird. Meeting friends, even for socially distant walking, feels weird. But still, I go off to meet Scott to pick up takeout at one of my favorite spots in Ann Arbor, the Lunch Room. Restaurants are only open for takeout and curbside pickup. I make the order online and tip extra generously, but forget to say curbside pickup. When we arrive in separate, socially distant cars I consider calling them and asking them to bring the food outside, but Scott is walking confidently towards the door, and I feel silly for feeling overcautious.
The restaurant is empty except for the three people I can see working behind the pickup counter. They look surprised to see anyone walk in. I quickly tell them my name for the pickup order. It feels weird to be there. We also get two tap waters. I am very conscious of not touching anything inside.
We eat at a picnic table by the river that is surprisingly dry, considering how everything else is still wet from yesterday's rain. Scott is a year younger than me and in his senior year studying music education at U-M. All U-M students have been told to go home if possible. All classes are online. He doesn't get a graduation. I'll probably remember my college graduation for almost my whole life. If I am lucky, I'll live long enough to forget it. Scott will remember his too, but for different reasons.
I ask Scott what is going on with student teaching. You cannot make student teaching online. He had done 1.5 out of 8 weeks at his second placement before all the schools shut down. He says the Deans of Michigan Education programs all had a big meeting and decided student teaching was just done. It would not take place online. Congrats, you have finished your field requirement for certification. I think about how much I learned in the last half of my student teaching. In reality, nothing really prepares you all the way for having a classroom, but student teaching certainly helps. It's not like there is a checklist of everything you have to learn while working under a mentor teacher. The hope is that if you do it for long enough, you see enough and learn enough to survive. I hope the teachers this year are seeing enough and learning enough.
Scott's second placement was in Dearborn, about 40 minutes East of Ann Arbor, right outside Detroit. His mentor teacher worked in a Title I middle school. I ask if the students are getting food they need and how is it working. He says that normally, 100% of the students get breakfast and lunch from the school. The district is still offering breakfast and lunch, but families have to pick it up at breakfast and lunch time. In a working class area, parents are struggling to get to the school twice a day for food.
Our walk takes us to wooded trail by the Huron river. There is constant slow stream of people jogging. If they were not running in opposite directions up and down the trail I would think that they were all running away from something. As we get to the part of trail that turns into Gallop park I notice several people are stopped, looking at the river. There are a pair of swans socially distant from each other, one on each side of the bridge. I wonder if people always stop to look at these swans. Or if somehow people are noticing them more now. Maybe they need to notice them more now.
We get to a point in the path where the trail ends and we would have to loop back the way we came, but it looks like people before us have cut through further. Something about being cooped in place all day makes me want an adventure.
It doesn't take long down the "path" for us to realize we are going to have to just climb through bramble. I feel like I am nine-years-old adventuring with my best friend in the neighborhood woods. It's the freest I've felt all week. Eventually we hit a fenced-off backyard. We have to climb straight up a brambly hill, which leads us to a steep drop over a small creek. When we finally make it to the street Scott and I agree that it was worth the adventure. Nine-year-old Lydia would be proud.
In our second day of online learning, the first email I get from the district is an announcement that all TSD servers are down. Too many people are using district devices at once. I won't lie, it kind of makes me laugh. The email even suggests things for students to do that don't involve devices, like building a fort.
I log-in to Schoology and find another student has submitted a video. This one is of a student on the autism spectrum, and it's the best she's ever played.
There's another email, this one asking for community volunteer translators. My district is beautifully diverse. I wish I knew how many languages were spoken across my families. In times of crisis it is important to make sure people across the community are all getting the same message. I am glad the district is stepping in to help organize the people. By the end of the day the servers are back up and the district has sent another email about how members of the community can get free food and groceries. There are certainly advantages to the working-class families that can afford to pay the district's taxes.