Looking out of my office window into the newsroom is strange in our COVID-19 world. It is empty.

Usually there are reporters at their desks, searching for story ideas, making calls on stories, etc. But with the order to work remotely, the desks are vacant and the room is silent.

The scanner will occasionally break the silence.

Our office population is down to only a small handful of people, everyone else has been asked to work from home. I am the lonely soul left in editorial.

It is different and not in a good way. A newsroom is usually a busy place with lots of moving parts. Each reporter is working on a different story, but there is communication, ideas thrown out, questions, etc. There are reporters heading out after a story while others are arriving back from covering a story.

There is always lots of action, but not today.

Today, there is silence and eerie emptiness.

Unfortunately, it is not just at the newspaper, it is everywhere. Businesses small and large, restaurants, theaters and schools all are working remotely.

My daughter, Felicia Dombrovski, teaches first grade in Peoria, Arizona. Like so many teachers she walked out of her classroom on a Friday and the school was closed Sunday.

She sent a letter to her students trying to explain what was happening.

“Little did we know that leaving school on Friday, March 13, it would be the last time we saw each other for a few weeks and maybe even the rest of the year,” she wrote. “We thought it was time for some rest and relaxation with a week off for spring break. A nasty virus had other plans for the world!”

She then explained to her kids about the virus, where it came from, how our bodies fight virus; and what the kids should do to stay safe.

“I know that all of these things are hard to do, but we must do them to make sure we don’t get sick or pass that crazy germ to someone else,” she told her students.

“You can, however, still do lots of things! Here are some things you can do:

• Face Time your friends or family

• Read a book

• Go for a walk

• Play at the park (with just your family) – be sure to wash your hands right when you get home

• Do some fun science experiments

• Practice your math facts

• Find shapes in the clouds

• Help mom/dad with a chore

• Make a new, fun dinner

• Create a book about your adventures at home

• Create a fort with chairs and blankets

• Make a card for a friend

• Draw then color a picture”

The COVID-19 world we find ourselves living in is different, but we need to make the best of this adventure.

Whether you are a student stuck at home, a parent searching for things to do with your kids, an employee working from home or stuck looking out at an empty office or business, it is not the end of the world.

I want to allow Felicia to end my column with the words she used to close her letter and encourage her kids. Her words are probably echoed by many teachers, business owners (with some changes to the words she uses), and those of us working from home or looking out at empty offices and businesses today.

“When this virus has stopped getting people sick, things will get back to normal. You will be able to play with your friends, go to the movies, go out to eat, and return to school. Until then, wash your hands and have fun learning at home,” she wrote. “I miss you. I miss our morning hugs, fist bumps, holas, twinkle fingers, and all the other greetings we had every day as you walked into our classroom. I miss our morning work, math lessons, our games, and recess. I miss our talks in guided reading and our science experiments. I miss you. Stay safe my students, my family – Love, Mrs. D.”

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