Like Dorothy and Toto, Pacific Unitarian preschool Pacific Sage found itself lifted to a time and place we could never have imagined…and we believe Rolly-Pollys live in large extended families, masking tape (like duct tape) can fix anything, and mud pies have magical healing powers.
When the World Health Organization announced the Coronavirus a World Pandemic in mid-March, Pacific Sage closed our doors to our children and families as a precautionary measure. A response to a possible exposure from the elementary school up the hill and mere blocks away. Guidelines and protocols from the LA County Health Department and Community Care Licensing were hastily crafted for early childhood centers (considered an essential service). We believed closing would be for only a couple of weeks of quarantine. We would be back together after spring break. Instead, our state and health leaders told everyone to stop what they were doing, stay inside, keep our frequently washed hands to ourselves, and wait.
Pacific Sage staff and families waited for nine weeks. We waited and checked on each other’s health, safety and sanity. School resources and Pacific Unitarian actions allowed us to support and care for the staff. Everyone waited and wrestled with technology and tried to remember what day it was. We waited for science and data to say things might be getting better, but most importantly, we waited and tried to construct a way to reopen Pacific Sage under swiftly changing pandemic policies for schools. Policies better structured for K-12 schools that already decided to not reopen until the fall.
Though time and pandemics wait for no one, time can sometimes be on our side. “Stay at Home” orders became “Safer at Home” orders, and again like Dorothy and Toto, we cautiously venture out of our homes to see in what kind of a world that pandemic tornado dropped us.
Under the current guidelines, Pacific Sage was able to reopen Monday – May 18th, but not with all of our 54 families. Physical distancing and stable groups must lead the way, but we can and will continue to wait for each other. There are also new routines and rituals to bring order, sanitation and safety to a learning experience that prides itself on its chaos, messiness, and risk. Yes, it’s not Kansas, but we adapt and keep moving forward with our children and their families, and with each other on that yellow brick road. Sing along:
“You’re out of the woods, you’re out of the dark, you’re out of the night,
Step into the sun, step into the light.
Keep straight ahead for the most glorious place on the face of the earth or the sky.
Hold onto your breath, hold onto your heart, hold onto your hope,
March up to that gate and bid it open.”
If you would like to know more about Pacific Sage Preschool, please visit http://www.pacificsagepreschool.org