The joy of planning during a pandemic

Updated: Apr 14

We’ve begun our second month of self isolation here in Queens, now made doubly famous as both the birthplace of the President and the epicenter of the pandemic. As unsettling—and often terrifying—as this new lifestyle is, it has given us the gift of more time to read, more family time to watch old movies and endlessly amusing TV and more time to think about the vanity of any pretense of control over life.

Edward, Violet and I video conference several times a day, which is a privilege because so many others put their lives at risk daily to provide the rest of us the luxury of working remotely. We start each day trying to figure out what we can do as an organization to help our members and the families that rely upon them, every person and every family struggling in its isolation. We’re able to plan for the day and for the week, but planning beyond the immediate future is the work for those with supranormal vision. We know there’s a future in which we no longer have to distance ourselves from those we love, work with or teach but the scientific consensus is that we will leave our cocoons slowly, in stages marked by testing and caution until we fully metamorphosize into something resembling our old selves.

It’s rather curious that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has become a national figure of health crisis rectitude because New York was, in fact, slow to respond to the epidemic as we should have and when we could have. But as our feckless President has, by comparison, turned Ethelred into a paragon of readiness, Governor Cuomo has risen to the occasion as our voice of reason even as he continues to bicker with our Mayor over who has the say-so about when schools will reopen.

We don’t know for certain when the kids will come running back into our classrooms but we certainly hope to see that by the beginning of the next school year, so we plod forward through the fog of unknown unknowns as best we can and continue to make plans for things we want to see happen.

One of the things we want to see happen is the CPICS Independent Charter School Symposium, which we’ve planned for November 15–17th in Denver. We don’t know what mid November will look like, but it would be a treat to be together in person instead of seeing each other in little Zoom squares. Our last symposium in Albuquerque was an exhilarating experience and we want to see it happen again while remaining mindful of circumstances. We will continue to promote registrations and presentations for #ICSS20 at The Brown Palace in Denver but if it’s not safe for us to meet in person, and we have to do the conference virtually, we’ll make sure that registration and hotel costs are refunded.

Speaking of presentations—we need to do some serious rethinking about the conference themes we had proposed. We’re living in a brand new world and it is certain to change us, our schools and how we think about the ends and means of public education. Please look at our RFP and give us your thoughts.

There is joy in planning for school openings, conferences and for life beyond our collective isolation. Planning is an act of optimism and it helps make us ready. The more we can plan, the readier we are. Ask Ethelred.

by Steve Zimmerman, CPICS Executive Director


© 2020 Coalition of Public Independent Charter Schools

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