On March 11, 2020, the National Basketball Association halted the season due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The cessation in play occurred soon after the cancellation of a game between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City due to a positive test from one of the Jazz players. Only five days prior the entire state of Oklahoma found its first confirmed case of COVID. To many, even those that don’t follow the NBA, this was an indication that things were about to change forever. Until that moment, to many, it seemed like it might be a one or two week thing, maybe a month, maybe even two!
On March 13, 2020, the kids came home for Spring Break. All the buzz was about the extra week off of school they were getting. This must be serious if they’re shutting down schools for an extra week to get this thing under control! But our kids, like all kids, wouldn’t return to a school building at all for months, regularly not for a full year.
Today, March 12, 2021 I was reminded of those two dates as I was driving down to Denver to receive my first COVID vaccination. I was listening to an NBA podcast from Zach Lowe where he and Ramona Shellburne were recounting their experience of March 11, 2020. The shuttering of the league was by no means in the top 100 things that the coronavirus affected, but it was a flash bulb moment in the collective consciousness to a country that had been heretofore been burying its head in the sand. While the kids thought they were coming home for a two week Spring Break, a lot of us anticipated something much longer.
At that point, I was in charge of transitioning all of our education organization’s on-boarding training to a remote environment. I’m not even sure how I became in charge of it. I think I just sort of did it and (I thought) demonstrated competence around it. What was going to be 10-15 in person events all around the country, involving hundreds of participants was now going to be entirely remote. And I was somehow in charge of redesigning that experience.
You might not remember it now, but in March of 2020, few of us were used to remote instruction or remote professional development. It seems like another world because now that’s all we do. But “back then” (which was both a year ago and a hundred years ago), people weren’t accustomed even to using Zoom, let alone teaching and learning with it. Let alone jamboard, peardeck, google classroom, and all the other technologies that seem now secondhand to many teachers. That was only a year ago. The virtual trainings that I had designed were still going on. And, if the social media posts are to be believed, they were going well. Two weeks (and also a hundred weeks) later I was admitted into a PhD program, where I’m both stressed and (I think) thriving.
Listening to a podcast (even though it’s a trivial podcast about the NBA) reminding me of what it was like a year ago brought back all the uncertainty and naivete we all had at the time. Even the most chicken-little of my friends didn’t envision this. Maybe this is why – after priming myself by listening to a podcast about the pandemic, on the anniversary of the day when it became real for many Americans, while on the way to getting my first vaccine for COVID – maybe that’s why getting the shot was so emotional. There was a world in which we went skiing in early March of 2020 with only the slightest understanding of what was happening elsewhere in the world and what was about to hit home. There is the world we lived in where the virus is running rampant and we’re closing schools and opening bars. Then there is the future world where we’re vaccinated. Even with a vaccine there is much uncertainty about what that world will look like.
Stay safe out there, take care of yourself, and cherish those close to you.