school closures

Since the beginning of January, my students have been working their little tiny butts off on the music festival.

These 4 and 5 year old kids learned an entire play and three songs in English. They also learned how to play Surprise Symphony on multiple instruments…. Yes, they are 4 and 5. And they play musical instruments better than I can.

Anyway, they worked for two months to perfect this. I wrote the play and pushed the curriculum aside to practice for the performance. I made the props. My partner made the costumes by hand.

Prime Minister Abe sent out a notice that school should probably cancel their school sanctioned activities and events because of the virus.

Our school principal decided, however, that the show must go on! He sent out a letter to the parents saying as much and we continued on with our program rehearsals and practices. The insane schedules and late nights were all going to be worth it when the kids perform for their parents, we thought.

Wednesday came and we had more practice and a huge meeting after work to tell us all our parts. I had to act as translator for the English speaking teachers as we all talked about where we would be standing and what our jobs were when our classes weren’t performing. The meeting lasted forever but hey, overtime pay is nice.

Thursday morning came and we were all hustling and bustling, trying to get last minute things in order as we went to the event hall to have our final rehearsal and run-through. The kids made it to the end and we all went back to the school. I barely made it back in time to get to my special classes I teach to elementary school kids on Thursdays. I had to say bye to my kids and hand them off to the support teacher who would help them get ready for the buses and send them off.

I was in the special lessons when there was an announcement over the intercom asking all teachers to meet in the staff room. I went and was asked to play translator again as they explained that “something happened” and the parents were no longer allowed to attend the music festival. It was cancelled!

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized what happened and why they cancelled it. Prime Minister Abe sent out another notice, this time telling schools to close their doors until the beginning of the new school year in April.

The show would still go on, though…? We were all confused as they continued on saying that we were still going to go and perform, but there would be a camera team there to video everything. The DVDs would then be sent out to the parents afterward.

On Friday, that is exactly what happened. The energy just wasn’t the same, though. There was no applause for the hard work and no proud parents crying and hugging their wonderful little boys and girls. It was a lot less stressful for the staff, sure… but part of me still feels bad.

Everyone is really freaking out here now. For my school, attendance will be optional for the rest of the school year. The graduation ceremony is still up in the air. We don’t know if it will actually happen or not. Same goes for our special gym event we were planning on having.

We aren’t just a preschool/kindergarten, though. We also act as a kind of day care, so I have a feeling that a lot of our kids are still going to be coming to school. For junior high school kids, they’re old enough to be on their own so it isn’t that much of an issue, but I feel bad for parents that have young kids in elementary school. They have to take off of work to care for the little ones.

I just read an article that the government is planning on making a fund to subsidize parents that need to take off of work, but I can’t help wonder where they will be getting that money from. The pension system is already a mess and they raised their taxes to a confusing mess of things (8% sales tax on food and 10% on other) to make up for their lack of money. What will they take from to create this new fund?

Stay safe!

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