Greetings from Japan.
I’m not overly worried about coronavirus/covid-19. I wash my hands, have my hand sanitizer, stopped biting my nails last year, and am generally prepared for contagions because I’m an asthmatic who works with elementary school kids. Kids are nasty.
Despite not being worried about it, Covid-19 is impacting my life and the lives of those around me.
Japanese public schools, which generally end their school year mid-march, are now closed from March 2nd to April. That news broke on Thursday night, while I was teaching dance, and I was inundated with texts.
Friday I headed to school in the morning unsure of if I would be required to attend school until March 10th (like many teachers will be). It also only dawned on me on the morning train that I probably wouldn’t simply be teaching six periods of English classes as planned on Friday. English is far less important than wrapping up EVERYTHING. Sure enough, the cancellations rolled in shortly after I arrived.
It was amazing that I did teach one 3rd grade class. The students and teacher appreciated a return to singing songs and clapping.
We don’t know if the 6th graders will get a graduation ceremony at this rate. The second half of Friday at school featured a last minute “goodbye party” for them. Usually there is a large, school-wide assembly where each grade performs a song/dance/skit/thank you for the outgoing 6th graders. The out-going 6th graders thank each grade and encourage them.
it was planned for next week but was quickly moved. Instead of having the whole school in the gym. The 6th graders stayed in the gym and each grade came to separately present their performances….getting hand-sprayed with sanitizer going in and exiting the gym.
I was lucky to be able to watch it all. It’s hard to put into words how goddamned adorable and amusingly costumed this yearly event it.
Also, I was going crazy with the doing nothing. I’d packed up and organized the English room and had taught my only class. I still didn’t know if I’d have to take all my belongings home that day.
With 30 minutes left on the work clock I learned that English assitants (me) and IT staff will be attending student-less schools until the end of our contracts. I guess the English room will get more posters!
Disneyland and Disney Sea will be closed for at least two weeks, so my commute to no-student school might be less crazy each morning and afternoon (we’re one train stop away from the Disneys).
I’ve started to wear masks at school and one public transport. Not that I think it helps much, but I realize it will make others around me less worried.
And maybe the train sign will stop talking to me.
I also have a homemade mask and will make more. In part because, yes, if you don’t have a school providing you with masks…they’ve been sold out at stores for WEEKS.
The bags under my eyes aren’t from worry. That’s just how I look at 6:30 am Friday after work + three dance lessons on Thursday.
Also, there were false rumors on social media about all paper products in Japan coming from China and thus shipping won’t happen and we’re about to face a paper-product shortage.
This is untrue because most of the pulp used to produce paper products here is from here…Japan.
It’s also now sort of true because, thanks to people freaking out, there’s no toilet paper to be bought anymore. I have a stockpile of tissue because of allergies so I’m safe.
Hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol is also scarce…but I work with kids AND made a fair amount of my own cleaning products so I have enough rubbing alcohol to add to distilled water/glycerine and maybe some aloe-gel as a base..to continue to fill my own containers…on top of regular hand washing. Wash them hands, folks. WASH THEM.
If I were in a more precarious head space the empty aisles would probably give me 3/11 Earthquake flashbacks. As it is they just annoy me.
So, that’s why my doll now has a mask.
I figure I can use some of the time going crazy with nothing to do at work to better research the Japanese terminology around ADHD for my March 6th appointment.
I’d sort of hoped wouldn’t fall into the “must come to work” category and could start playing with the airbrush I now have…but going crazy at work has the advantage of a paycheck.