Teachers and students are used to seeing each other daily, but with the arrival of COVID-19, that normalcy came to an abrupt halt.
So the teachers at Satilla Marsh Elementary gave their students a visible reminder Wednesday that their presence in the classroom is dearly missed.
They formed a parade of 40 to 50 cars and spent more than three hours in the morning driving through the neighborhoods where the school’s families reside. Cars were decorated with encouraging words, and teachers kept the windows rolled down as they drove by slowly, waving to students and calling out to them. Some threw out pieces of candy.
The school’s mascots rode in two truck beds.
“We all miss the kids so much, and we knew it would be a great way to see them,” said Lauren Sapp, parent involvement coordinator at Satilla Marsh Elementary.
Glynn County Schools closed March 16 to support the coronavirus prevention efforts. Schools are providing resources to parents and guardians so that learning can continue, mostly through online platforms.
Teachers are communicating with students via email or video chats. What’s missing is the customary face-to-face interaction.
The display of affection throughout the teachers’ parade, though, reminded students how much their education matters to the professionals tasked with providing it whether or not the school buildings are open.
“It’s important for them to know that we care,” Sapp said. “We’re in this together.”
Siblings Cami, 6, and Mason, 9, decorated their home’s driveway with chalk art in preparation for the passing parade. Just after 9 a.m., they sat outside waiting with their mom, Melissa Prescott.
“It’s so nice that the teachers want to stay involved and see the kids,” Prescott said. “They’ve been really supportive through this whole thing with online and messages and emails.”
Converting to at-home learning and adapting to new routines has been a challenge, said Prescott, who has four children.
“The typical school day is six, seven hours, but really we’re getting it done in one to two hours, so it’s not quite as long,” she said. “But they’re missing out on their friends and socializing.”
And with many businesses and public places closed, the family is anchored at home more than ever before.
“They’re kind of missing out on that and have a little bit of cabin fever, which I think everyone is experiencing right now,” Prescott said. “We’re trying to make it fun, though. We do a lot of activities inside with them. We do bike rides every day. I’m trying to make it fun, but it’s different and it’s challenging. We’re trying to make the best of it.”
Teachers play a big role in that effort, Prescott said.
The circumstances are new for everyone, and teachers have to find creative ways to keep students engaged, Sapp said.
“We’re all trying to figure it out together,” she said.