Educators across Long Island have been throwing teacher parades to lift the spirits of students who’ve been learning from home for nearly a month since the coronavirus pandemic forced New York State school closures.
Scenes have emerged island-wide of teachers decking out their cars with uplifting messages and driving by their students homes to honk, wave hello, and let their pupils know how much they are missed — with students reciprocating while holding up homemade thank you posters on their lawns.
“Our elementary kids have been feeling so isolated, sad, scared, and confused during this worldwide pandemic,” said Allyson Begley, the mother of a fifth-grade student at Glenwood Landing Elementary School. “To help bring smiles to their students’ faces, our teachers came through our neighborhood in a parade to spread kindness and cheer.”
The trend is similar to drive-by birthday parties in which friends and family members have been seen lining up in caravans to send well wishes to those who can’t host celebrations since their birthdays fall during social-distancing mandates forbidding congregating in crowds. Like the birthday caravans, teacher parades ensure students and teachers remain more than six feet apart to avoid spreading COVID-19.
“Social distancing was maintained as teachers never left their cars,” said Dot Burke, another parent whose child’s teacher participated in a parade. “The teachers decorated their cars and the students made signs to show their teachers how much they missed them. It was truly heartwarming for these children to see their teachers during this difficult time.”
Public and private schools as well as colleges and universities on LI had been canceling classes one by one for days, sometimes weeks at a time, before Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered schools statewide close for two weeks starting March 15. The closures were twice extended two more weeks, with the current extension stretching to April 29. Educators have transitioned to remote learning — online classes — to bridge the gap and the Regents exams scheduled for June were canceled.
“It was much needed for these kids,” added Begley. “Everyone who participated had tears in their eyes because it was so heartwarming to see how happy the kids were to get a wave and a honk from their teachers.”
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