Monthly Archives: March 2020

First Day of Virtual School During Coronavirus

Sydney started virtual school today.

We are in an historic time in which schools across the country have been mostly closed for the past two weeks do to the COVID-19 virus scare. In some ways, the Green Vale School community was lucky because we have been on spring break the past two weeks, even though that meant staying home. However, it did give administrators and teachers lots of time to prepare.

And as one might expect from an expensive private school, Green Vale is doing things right. We started at 8:45 AM with an all-school assembly and then at 9:15 AM with regular school via live video.

Many if not most schools are not using live video for whatever reason, including the fear that not all students have sufficient internet connectivity and privacy concerns of kids broadcasting from home. But, clearly, school via live video is the way to go. As I listen in on the morning “Literacy” section, Ms. Murray is teaching and kids are asking questions or responding as needed. (Sydney has been a model student: very involved, happy and cheery, and asking good questions.)

You can see Sydney’s video to her science class here: And below are short snippets of the all-group assembly and Sydney kicking off morning meeting with Ms. Murray’s class.

Sydney and Allan Interviewing Each Other

What I never seem to capture on this blog are videos of Sydney and me actually talking to each other, even though it happens all the time in real life. Yet I think Sydney will love to be able to go back when she is older and see how she communicated when she was a young girl and how I was as a younger (relatively speaking!) dad.

To correct this, I showed Sydney a short video of a newscaster interviewing someone. We then each created 10 questions for the other person, set up a video, and did the interview.

Spring Break During the Coronavirus

Sydney and I had nine days of spring break together and planned to fly on Sunday, March 15 to Montana and then to Colorado for skiing. The day before I was mostly packed and we had our lodging set, plans made with friends out West, rental car booked, and my auto responder already on. However, the COVID-19 virus news  kept getting worse and worse and, finally, at 6:42 PM Eastern time, Vail Resorts said it was closing all its ski resorts. That was the death knell. We canceled the night before we were supposed to leave.

We then had nine days at home during the time of “social distancing” and “shelter at home” which eliminated indoor playdates, dinner guests, and ultimately playground visits. That was quite a change from our plans.

I asked Sydney to jointly draw up an activity list, including “Work” on one side and “Fun” on the other. This gave us some direction and also allowed me an hour or so each day to work out and check emails while Sydney read books or did math problems on the computer. We also made outdoor play dates with a number of friends – those families who were not entirely isolating at home. We watched three movies, which for us was a luxury. But, mostly, we played games, read books, and hung out together.

Sydney took the entire episode without complaint. She was disappointed to not be skiing in Montana but as long as she has a parent to hang out with, she is happy. If I didn’t provide direction, she’d be content just riding piggy back, wrestling, giving hugs, and generally draping herself all over me. In the end, it was nine days of bonding with my daughter, which is something to treasure.

Allan and Sydney on a hike

Throwing the ball at the beach for Beth’s dogs


With friend Kayla climbing on a pier

Sydney with her friend Oriel, whose parents are German and Spanish (he speaks three languages)

Sydney with neighbors Grant and Everett

Trader Joe’s handed out free flowers, which was very touching given the coronavirus scare.

Green Vale 1st Grade Play

The Green Vale School has a tradition of each class performing a play, which I understand is the same play for each grade each year. The sets are amazing, the music and story is fairly involved, the kids get extremely excited, and it is fun to watch.

Last year for the kindergarten play Sydney was so quiet during her main solo line the girl next to her did not even hear Sydney speak. This year we practiced speaking loudly and clearly. You can watch a 23-minute video of The Great Kapok Tree if you want but if that is too long, consider watching just the intro where Sydney is one of three students presenting the play and then jets off the stage as soon as she is done speaking. It is also pretty funny right after that to watch Sydney rush onto the stage again and practically leap up onto the riser where she and the other monkeys are standing.