From Endurance to Dressage
I have rarely done this, but I have edited the final paragraph in an attempt to say what I meant to say ...
These are certainly sad and trying times for sure. This certainly isn't the world's first pandemic though. Wikipedia gives that honor to the plague of Athens which in the 400s BC killed 75,000 - 100,000. In the 1520 Smallpox Epidemic, nearly 8 million died in Mexico. The Italian Plague of 1629 killed 280,000. And of course, there was the Black Death in the 1300s which killed 75 - 200 million Europeans, as much as 60% of the population. Don't they wish they would have had a Twitter account.
Before last week, no one in Kern County was paying much attention to the Corona Virus except on Facebook. We though the toilet paper debacle was quite hilarious. In all honesty, I think we thought it was a greatly exaggerated joke. Turns out it wasn't. On Saturday, there was no TP at my local Albertsons.
It was only when LA Unified closed its door that I began to worry. LA Unified serves 600,000 students. When they shut their doors, people listen. San Diego Unified, the second largest school district in California, followed soon after; they serve more than 121,000 students. My own district, which serves pre-K through 8th grade, provides education to more than 18,000 students. Bakersfield's only high school district, the Kern High School District, provides education to more than 40,000 students.
As district after district closed their doors, the Kern High School District waited until the Governor essentially made it mandatory. Whatever Kern High does, the elementary schools follow suit. I was glad that we were the last of the 25 largest districts in the state to close our doors. Today is our first day of closure.
In times of crisis, stability keeps us sane. Following regular routines helps us to feel safe. As districts began closing their school's campuses before the virus had even reached their communities, I worried about our kids. Knowing that a closure was imminent, I started having round table discussions with my kiddos. We pushed our tables to the side and formed a talking circle.
For that first circle, I told them what our topic was, COVID-19, and I handed out a talking stick. It's really a plush pony that's easy to toss around the circle. I asked kids to share what they had heard, read on social media, or seen with their own eyes. That first day, the circle was 32 strong.
After talking, I asked each of my kids to visit the website Information Is Beautiful. If you haven't seen it yet, check it out, it is the most non-alarming thing you'll see on the internet today. Their COVID-19 #CoronaVirus Infographic Datapack is the best visual representation of the disease that I've seen.
The next day, we again met for a talking circle. Our circle was much smaller with only 21 of us. Again, we shared what we knew and had heard. We talked about our plans for a lengthy school closure and what that meant for their education. We also dug through the WHO website. We focused on two areas, the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Situation Dashboard and the Myth Busters page.
In my own classroom, we finished each day by using Clorox wipes to clean our table tops and frequently touched surfaces like door handles and light switches. This is a practice we've done since the first day of school. My classroom also has a wall mounted hand sanitizer unit that the kids use whenever they want.
My talk circle on Tuesday was much smaller. There were only 17 of us. Again we talked about the craziness we were seeing. We revisited the Information Is Beautiful website, the WHO website, and the CDC website. We also found out that there was at least one confirmed case of Corona Virus in Kern County. That individual was visiting from the San Fransisco Bay Area. That information tipped the scales for my district. Tuesday was both my kiddos' and my last day until at least April 14th.
In preparation for a closure that involves 13 school days, my district quickly assembled packets and supplies to be sent home with each student at the end of the day. Fortunately, most districts around California already have a spring break scheduled during this time, so the number of missed school days will be fewer than what a 4-week closure makes it sound. For students who were absent, their packets were labeled and placed in bins in front of the school. Parents were messaged and asked to come pick them up.
Besides providing packets of grade appropriate schoolwork for each child, my district is also providing portable breakfast and lunch packs for any child under the age of 18. Between the hours of 11:00 am and 1:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, a meal pack will be available at most of our schools in the drive through for any child in the car. The meal packs are being offered free of charge, Meals must be consumed off site to discourage large gatherings.
As a teacher, I feel strongly that it is my job to present the facts to my students. When I teach reading, I look for texts that don't have a hidden agenda, and when they do, we talk about it. For history, I strive to present both sides of an event. Just a week or so ago we discussed why the patriots of the American Revolution are viewed as heroes rather than the traitors they might have been had the colonists lost the war. In science, I present data that is known and accepted by the scientific community. And when it contradicts what religion says, we talk about that too, respectfully.
So when the world looked to be falling apart right in front of our eyes, my students and I examined the data from what seems like the most reliable sources available. Does the Corona Virus merit the social media attention, social distancing, and societal shut down that we're seeing? I let my students decide for themselves.
As for me, I fear this is really just political maneuvering by both the Democrats and the Republicans. Is the shutdown of businesses both large and small truly necessary? Is it worth the cost? People die every day from a a lot of other preventable causes, and no one is screaming about them. Look at how many people will die today of Tuberculosis. Already in 2020, there have been 8,247 known American deaths caused by gun violence (source). Out of 7.7 billion people worldwide, only 7,873 have lost their lives to COVID-19, fewer than the more than 8,000 American who have died from gun violence. Why are we not angry about those deaths? Is it simply because those deaths, the ones from Tuberculosis and gun violence, aren't part of our every day experiences? And yet, long after COVID-19 fades away, those deaths will continue to rise higher and higher, year after year.
Do I think pandemics in general are fake or contrived? Absolutely not, but I do worry that this one might cause us to become jaded toward the next one. A more deadly one. One like Smallpox but more contagious with a higher death rate.
I guess only time will tell.
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: