That's the only word I can think of right now to describe how I feel. All of us at work knew it was coming. If there had remained any doubt, it was dissipated at the morning staff meeting, held in the multi-purpose room so we could maintain social distancing, where we were told to prepare. Permission was even granted to show videos to give us time to put together work to send home with our students. We were told to hold off on sending the packets until official word arrived.
But we knew.
We knew today would be the day we were told that school was closing.
At 1:30 p.m., it indeed became official. We knew it was coming, and yet it seemed no less shocking than if we had been caught unawares. My kids were at recess when the email came, and in a few minutes, I would have to pick them up and bring them back to class. How on earth was I going to tell them that we would not be seeing each other for the next month?
Looking around the room at their faces, I faltered. I couldn't bring myself to say it. So many times up until now, I had longed for an extended break from these kids. I imagined that a moment like this would be one of celebration. Now, I just wanted to cry.
In the end, I did tell them. Some, as you would imagine, let out a whoop of joy. Others, though, looked stunned as they tried to process what was happening. I tried my best to explain that I would still be teaching them for the next two weeks; it was just going to look differently. One student told me she liked my style of teaching, which brought a smile to my face, and I assured her that I would try to convey that through the computer somehow.
"What about Flora and Ulysses?" they asked. I had been reading it aloud and we were very near the end.
"I guess I'll have to video myself reading it," I answered.
"What if you're not done before Spring Break," one boy wanted to know.
"Then I guess I'll keep reading," I said.
When it was time to go, they lined up at the door like any normal Friday afternoon. But it was anything but normal. My usual "have a good weekend" and "see you Monday" no longer fit, and I was left without an appropriate thing to say in their place. The occasion seemed to call for hugs, but those had already been banned. So, I stood at the door and we gave each other "air" hugs as they filed through the door.
"I wish I could give you a real hug," I heard more than once.
"So do I," I replied.
And with that, they were gone.