We have started week two of “social distancing” and “staying and working at home” because of Coronavirus. The only time we have left the house is to go to the grocery store to get what is left on the shelves while sharing anxious glances with everyone else there. We come home to be surrounded by more bad news on TV and on social media.

There is no doubt these are anxious and dismal times. It is hard to find the positives in this situation. Since I try my best to be an optimist, I have been spending the past week trying to collect my thoughts on the positive aspects of this worldwide pandemic. The following are some positives that I have pieced together in the past week.

Families “Stuck at Home” Together

The forced closing of schools, colleges, businesses and parents forced to work at home has everyone “stuck home” together. Not to mention every activity that kids or parents are usually involved in is cancelled. As a result, there may be some stressful times, but families that are often busy and rarely get to spend time together now have exactly that- time together. Family dinners, hikes/walks, game nights, or movie nights are probably happening a lot more often. Besides dinners and walks our family has been playing our favorite domino game together every night since this started. And even if there are some fights, tantrums, and patience lost along the way, the time spent together is worthwhile.

Less People Traveling = Less air, water and land pollution

There is a direct benefit to the Earth when humans are forced to stay at home. Less cars and buses on the road and less trains and planes running have decreased the air pollution seen from space along with the pollution in waterways and on the land. Because we, as humans have simply stopped moving.

It’s like the Earth is finally able to take a deep breath of fresh air.

Appreciation of the Great Outdoors

I have seen more people outside walking in the past week than I have ever seen. And believe me, it is not exactly “warm” here in Massachusetts right now. People are taking their kids outside, going for hikes in the woods, bike rides and walks around the neighborhood. Everyone is appreciating what a dose of fresh air can do, taking in the beauty of nature and remembering how important it is to keep our air, land and waters clean.

Mindshifts about Education

Of course we have all seen the funny memes and posts about parents having to “home school” their kids during these school shutdowns. This turning of the tables just may shift some parents’ perspectives about teachers. But, I also am hopeful that this changes many people’s perspective on what is really important in education. SAT testing and state standardized tests are now cancelled. Most schools that I know of are not grading any work. Because, in the grand scheme of things, these things do not matter. Do these things not matter because we are in the middle of a pandemic? Yes. Should these things carry less weight, or none at all, on a “normal” basis for students and teachers? In my opinion, yes. I keep saying to my daughter who has struggled at high school Algebra all year and has put way too much stress on herself about it- in the grand scheme of things, your grade in Algebra 1 in ninth grade isn’t going to matter.

Teachers are now teaching online, sending out educational opportunities for families or holding “office hours” for their students and parents. But what I am hearing from parents and students is just that the kids “miss” their teachers and classmates and want to hear from them and want to connect with them. The school work that students do or don’t do is not important it’s the teacher- student relationship that is.

Respect for the Hourly Workers

The people that you normally walk by at the grocery store that are stocking the shelves, collecting the carts or ringing up your order. The people that are working the gas stations (although many of us are not using much gas) The people that are working at the pharmacies and the discount stores. They are the ones reporting to work so we can go buy our toilet paper, Lysol wipes (who am I kidding, there are no more left of either) and emergency stash of wine while the rest of us are “working” safely from home. Everyone, regardless of their occupation deserves the same respect and hopefully people are realizing that.

Worldwide Focus is now on the Importance of Science

I consider myself more than “just a Science teacher”. I am a life long learner, enthusiast and believer in Science. I believe children should start learning Science at a young age and continue throughout their lives. This doesn’t just prepare them for possible careers, it is important for them in general to make educated decisions about their daily lives, their health and their families’ health. My hope is that others now see the importance of Science education at every level. If ever there is a time that the world needs advancements and breakthroughs in Science it is now.

I know there are other positives that I will think after this is published and in the weeks to come. (For example, that I finally have time to work on the pictured puzzle!) I would love to hear more. What are some positives that I missed? Leave a comment and share! Let’s see how many we can piece together. – E