The first week
COVID-19 has arrived. The first decree is released- we have information, though not enough. Our stock of Amuchina hand sanitizer is plentiful. Shops and pharmacies empty. We remain open and smug; we were hygienic before it was cool.
As the week presses on and public schools close, we cancel our ragazzi classes. We teachers now have too much to plan and no certainty of when those classes will next be. Blog posts are suggested and granted. Will and Graham collect conspicuously behind the sound-proofing booth of the Podcast, the microphone wires splayed across the table, unplugged. We flee WhatsApp groups as teachers become totems of wisdom and COVID-19 information think-tanks. “We’re just teachers!” we plead, “Call the school!”.
The second week
All classes are a go, but we now wish they weren’t as the youth filtering through the doors highlight the extra grey hairs that we gained last week. We are taken aback to find our classes of teenagers suddenly eager to learn, more focused than ever, having been deprived of a classroom structure and gifted endless boredom that is eased only with endless scrolling on social media. A pandemic, or a gift? This thought is short-lived after disinfecting our entire classroom for the third time that day.
The staff meeting to discuss our future options is productive, though tinged with technological angst. ZOOM is brought forth as the saviour of the school’s future. The teachers sit, heads dipped, as one thought whirs in panicked circles around our minds: Will our ESL teachers-salary-bought computers stand the test?
The third week
Little did we know that that would be the last time we saw each other. In the flesh, that is. Nonetheless, we unite our strengths on the WhatsApp group chat (the only one left standing at this point) and in less than 24 hours we are a fully operational online school. These are strange are uncertain times, and we wouldn’t have achieved what we have so far without each other.
The fourth week
Operating online, business as usual, what is clear is that at the Oxford School every single member of the team is committed to learning. We took a new online approach to our lessons and the running of the entire school in our stride, adapting and educating ourselves in a heartbeat to ensure the continued education of our students. The weeks of this new system may or may not roll on- either way, by some miracle our computers are holding firm- as are we.