Quarantine perspectives: Working from home with kids

by Jennifer Pallay, Lansing Journal reporter

Editor’s note: The people who write for The Lansing Journal represent a diversity of ages, occupations, and family situations. I asked them if they would be willing to share their perspectives on the ways COVID-19 is impacting their personal and professional lives. -Melanie Jongsma

Jennifer Pallay
DYER, Ind. (March 23, 2020) – Friday, March 13, was the last day my son went to second grade at his elementary school and the last day I went into my communications office at Bishop Noll, the high school I work for. It is amazing how much has changed in that week.

I am now navigating how to effectively work from home, and it is not easy. Every few minutes something breaks my concentration—whether it is my dogs barking at all the people out for walks; my children needing food, drinks, or help; or friends, family, and co-workers calling to check in. I already miss the days of working in my office and keeping one thought for a full five minutes.

Learning to draw a rhinoceros (Photo: Jennifer Florek)
Our high school staff and students have been using a combination of the Zoom teleconferencing app and Google hangouts for communicating in the most normal way possible at the moment.

My son meanwhile has taken on the task of continuing to learn while also learning how to learn through e-learning. His school system was not set up for e-learning but amazingly came up with a plan in two days. He is now logging onto a website called Canvas and using a combination of Google slides, YouTube videos, and learning websites to complete his daily assignments. The other morning, we all watched an instructional video about drawing a rhinoceros with various patterns, and then we each completed the project. Kudos to art teachers because I had to hide my laughter as he drew the rhinoceros face and horn way out of proportion.

On Friday, his classmates were able to write messages to each other via that e-learning site. All told their teacher and friends how much they missed them and can’t wait to get back to school.

My preschooler also loves school and has definitely been missing her friends and the social interaction. She still asks me her usual question every night, “Do I have school tomorrow?” It breaks my heart to tell her no.

Saturday we were supposed to leave for Indianapolis to visit my college roommate and her family for a spring break getaway. We were going to visit the Indianapolis Children’s Museum and the zoo. All of that, in addition to everything else we had planned, has been cancelled. Instead, on Friday we drove to the Schererville Park District and waited in a line of cars for 30 minutes to drive through the parking lot full of costumed characters (PJ Masks, Olaf, and the Easter Bunny to name a few.) They waved to the kids and danced as we drove by. “This is life now—drive-through everything,” I thought to myself.

Schererville Park District hosted a drive-through parade. (Photo: Jennifer Pallay)

It seems like so much changes every 6 to 12 hours that I can’t even begin to guess what next week will bring. I’m hoping as we all get more into this routine, it will start to feel more normal and less chaotic. Good luck to all of us as we navigate through this together…but apart.

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