- Emily Rose Smith
The Day the Bell Went Quiet
Today marks one year, that the Waldorf School of Mendocino County closed our campus in response to the newly developing Novel Coronavirus. As a community we have adapted so many times in so many ways, it is hard to remember the beginning, which was marked by a myriad of unknows.
Our Waldorf colleagues in Washington State
had been preparing us for what would be coming. No one said not to plan-they said, “Start planning now.” So, we started: we formed a Task Force to evaluate the evolving situation. Our Task Force continues to meet bimonthly to evaluate the still ever-changing regulations and best practices. In March of 2020, we were determined to stay open as long as it was safe and possible.
With only two weeks until our event, we canceled our Gold and Glitz Auction planned for March 28th when County orders restricted gatherings of over 250 people. (Remember large indoor gatherings?) On March 13, school districts across the state began to close. We warned families to start making preparations for extended childcare if the need to close arose.
Two days later, Sunday, March 15th a letter went out to all WSMC families:
“I write this update to you reluctantly and with a heavy heart this afternoon…all the Unified School Districts in the county have announced closures beginning early this week. In an abundance of caution, WSMC will join our community schools.”
Students came to campus on Monday March 16th to gather materials for what was then thought to be perhaps a 4-week closure. Teachers packed in as many activities as they could in that one day-trying to prepare for the unknown.
And on Tuesday, March 17th the WSMC school bell went quiet.
Campus went silent quickly: our students went home; a handful of staff and parents organized and produced an online auction. The first of many online fundraisers by local nonprofits. Teachers planned a new way of teaching and distance learning began on March 23.
The closure continued, a Shelter-In-Place order was implemented, campus remained quiet. When it became clear we would not be returning to school that year, WSMC boldly and with great care invited students back to campus for two days in June to close the year. One day to say hello and one day to say goodbye.
Today we remember the beginning, the unknown and our perseverance. We remember the fear and the quiet. We remember the love, flexibility and creative ideas. Today we celebrate together as a school that is once again filled with children’s laughter and the sound of a ringing bell.
“It remains my great pleasure and honor to serve our community at this time of uncertainty. I am always impressed by our collective wisdom, care, creativity and resilience,”
Spring Senerchia, WSMC School Administrator, March 13th 2020.