During the bubonic plague of 1665, Sir Issac Newton was one of many individuals who went into ‘self-isolation’, or what is being commonly referred to today as social distancing. It was during this time period in which Newton, inspired by witnessing an apple falling from his garden tree, developed the Law of Universal Gravitation.
As the world enters New York State and federal guidance and regulations on travel, business operation, social interactions, and school closures, it is important to focus on what can be achieved in this time, and how a community can come together. While most of us will not be the next Newton, we can certainly stay positive, connect with our families and loved ones in unique and creative ways, and hold onto our sense of community pride.
Currently schools across the country are canceling classes due to the global pandemic COVID-19. As of Monday, March 16 Jamestown Public Schools (JPS) are closed, remaining so until at least April 20. However, this does not mean they are physically closing their doors, canceling lessons, or limiting connection.
Last Wednesday, over 1,000 lunch meals were prepared by JPS staff, ready for distribution to children and families in need. Food service staff were asked almost overnight to have a plan in place to continue to feed the children of the district. They pulled it off, an example of brightness in what is an uncertain time.
Teachers across the county have been working diligently to put together lesson packets, literature suggestions, and activities for students to work on from home. Schools, like Cassadaga Valley Central, Frewsburg Central School, and Southwestern Central, have been instituting online Morning Announcements, ‘gym’ classes, and art lessons. Some have even added Wifi ‘hotspots’ to their school parking lots to assist families without home internet access.
Carrie Graham and her family, of Frewsburg Central School District, are making the best of school closures. “We are in a different situation then most families as I am an HR manager for a hospital [Warren General] so I don’t have the luxury to be home all day with my kids.
So we are handling it in our own way.”
Working with the delivery home packets through the elementary school, Graham has created a schedule for the days to come, complete with a craft list, recipes to bake, and plans for a spring garden.
“I am lucky that the age span for my children makes this much easier. My 17 year old daughter and 14 year old son have taken on the role of caregivers for my 5 year old. Our daily routine as a family has not changed much, my husband and I still get up and go to work in the morning. Throughout the day the kids are combining educational activities and real world activities. I have a schedule board for everyone to view so they know what to do and when. My daughter has dinner when we get home and we sit down at a table and actually talk to each other.”
Unique Learning Opportunities
Not only have schools across the country worked an incredible amount in a short time to get things prepared for students, various educational resources, museums, zoos, and even broadway shows are offering online experiences that families can enjoy in this time of social distancing.
As Graham says, “In the evenings we play board games. I honestly feel more relaxed and in control of my life….I love the educational links the schools and national organizations are providing. They are keeping activities fresh and interactive for the little ones specifically, to be honest the big ones love watching the Cincinnati zoo videos too.”
Paul Clemente of Jamestown, and father to three, echoes similar sentiments. “It’s been a nice excuse for some one-on-one time. Usually time is spent on chores, and errands because that’s all the free time I have. It’s been cool to dust off the canvases, and pens, and sports equipment.”
As updated on their Facebook Page, Jamestown Public Schools will also be offering childcare for those in need throughout this crisis. Families composed of healthcare workers, first responders, and public safety will be provided first priority. Those seeking more information can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clemente reports he has been very happy with the updates received from area schools, “the school has responded really well. Good communication. Texts and emails frequently. Plus there are plans in place for food, daycare, and the collection of personal things.”
Schools nationwide are coming together to help parents navigate this change in pace. Free resources include:
Scholastic ‘Learn at Home’ Website: https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html
Wonderopolis (STEM based learning activities): https://camp.wonderopolis.org/
Families are also encouraged to follow their child’s school district page on Facebook or webpage for up to date information on developments, community programs, and unique and interactive learning opportunities.
Supporting Local and One Another
Local businesses are also facing many hardships. Jamestown Up Close, managed through the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation, has composed an online list of restaurants remaining open and offering takeout. Restaurants are getting creative with their take-out menu; businesses like Forte offering ‘cocktails to go’ and Full Moon Rising Bakery looking to move back to custom orders. Businesses and organizations are taking advantage of our vast social networks; The James Prendergast Library has instituted ‘virtual’ story-times, streaming on Facebook. Samsara Yoga of Jamestown live stream their yoga classes during their regular schedule each day. The Jamestown and area community are truly adapting as best they can. Now is the time to support local more than ever, as Clemente shares. “Please support your neighbors by spending what money you have locally. I’d love to see Jamestown come out of the other end of this thing stronger.”
In overwhelming times of uncertainty, such as this, communities must know that we are all in this together. Families are certainly overwhelmed, suddenly thrust into the role of educator, while managing increased meal preparations, scared children and plenty of time on their hands. Business owners are uncertain what the future of their daily life will be. Individuals face unemployment and a disruption to the norm. However, it is important to remember to support one another, take time to focus on mental health and self-care, and do your best to maintain a routine. Call friends and family you haven’t spoken to in a while, check in with your neighbor, help when you can, and do your best to practice social distancing. For all of us, this is unprecedented change, and it is important to do what we can without putting too much pressure on ourselves. Our community will persevere.
As one principal in Los Angeles has shared with the world recently, “It’s going to be stressful….Instead cuddle up together and read, read, read….Do a puzzle. Build a fort. Paint…. Just spend time together. Your kids won’t learn much if they’re feeling stressed. Though this is a scary time, it could very well be a time they remember as the best time in their life.”
For more information on COVID 19 and how you can enact necessary precautions please visit www.cdc.gov