Public schools in Washington, D.C., shut down in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak at the end of the school day on March 13, 2020. They are currently slated to reopen in late April. Owain Williams, a third grader in D.C., writes about his experience.
When you wake up, you never know how the day is going to turn out. Last Friday changed my life.
I woke up nervous and excited that morning. There was a schoolwide spelling bee for third, fourth, and fifth graders, and I was competing as one of the third grade’s champions.
Also, I felt nervous because I’d heard that the coronavirus was close to D.C. I learned about the coronavirus because a friend of mine was pretending that he had it at recess. I didn’t know what the coronavirus was, so that night, I asked my mom and dad.
I really didn’t like the idea of school being canceled. But I also didn’t like the idea of getting the coronavirus. So, I felt both nervous and anxious.
That morning, when my parents told me that our school was going to close, I was really frustrated because I wanted to compete in the spelling bee. Fortunately, we still got to attend that day. It still felt weird, though. My whole grade was getting ready to take interims in one or two weeks, and I didn’t want to skip those. Also, those were practice for the PARCC tests, and I was thinking about everything I was going to miss. I like learning and don’t mind tests, and I don’t want to miss other special events at school.
At school that Friday, most of my friends were happy, saying “yay” and “no more work” and things like that. They talked about not liking schoolwork, which was weird, because I know that some of them like it. I mean, I guess I don’t like work sometimes. I thought they were excited and scared at the same time, which was probably overwhelming them. I thought they were nervous because they had gotten that same call in the morning and were thinking about avoiding the coronavirus. But they were also excited to watch the spelling bee and take a lot of time off school.
In other words, I figured they were feeling a lot like I was.
But everyone got even more excited after the spelling bee, because I won! My friends gave me a huge hug, and then, before we knew it, our day was over.
Now that we’re home, my family and I are staying busy mostly by going running in the park and biking, doing art, and even playing music. On the first day off, we drove out to a state park and went hiking. My parents keep telling us we need to have around an hour playing outside every day.
We also have a nine-month-old baby in our house, so a lot of our time inside is entertaining him while our parents work, or entertaining ourselves while our parents entertain him.
Our house is a regular entertainment zone. For example, we have lots of books because my family and I all love them. A few days ago, my mother found a thing hosted by the Kennedy Center and it is called Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems. The program is at 1:00 p.m. eastern time, and it is great entertainment for kids. Mo Willems is also the author of books like “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” and the “Elephant and Piggie” series. Each day, you learn to draw some of Mo’s characters and he also shows some of his planning for his books in his studio in Massachusetts. You even can send Mo things, like questions for him to read and answer on his program!
It sounds like the coronavirus outbreak is pretty bad in DC and other places. I think the schools will end up being closed for more than two weeks. But things aren’t so bad, I guess. I guess the quarantine makes me feel happy, sad and nervous. I am happy because I got a break from school. I am sad because I don’t see much of my friends and because I missed those interim tests and a lot of learning. I feel nervous because I could get the coronavirus.
Fortunately, most people feel something like this. We’re all kind of in the same spot. There are a lot of people out there helping. Doctors and scientists are working to stop the coronavirus and trying to find a cure. And meanwhile, while all this stuff happens, Mo is keeping kids pretty entertained.