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04/03/2020 12:25:24 PM


Rebecca Blank and Jordan Hiller

Sacrifice and Survive

The next two weeks will be critical for New York. What happens during this time will predict if we are in this mess for the next six weeks or the next six months. We are appreciated for our hard work and what we are doing is helping to flatten the curve. If we manage to keep families working and engaged for the next two weeks, they will be less inclined to venture outside and it will help immensely.

These are the words of Rebecca Blank in a letter sent to many teachers who were told this past week that they would be working through what is typically spring break. Her position as a New York Teacher’s Union Rep made her the target of much projected frustration meant for Governor Cuomo; the source of the Executive Order. She had the unenviable task of explaining to the men and women working from home and trying to teach via Zoom (take cover – Zoom bomb!!!) that they would need to step up. 

What we are being asked to do is unprecedented and it is unfair. However it isn’t just us. We are all frustrated about losing spring break, especially after two very difficult and draining weeks. We have worked harder than ever before, while being under quarantine and enduring much stress. All of us are feeling anxiety about the coming days—worried about loved ones, our health, our economy. Yet, when I think about the doctors and nurses that are treating patients without proper safety equipment, or NYPD, FDNY, and DSNY all out there facing this pandemic on the front lines, we should feel thankful to be safe in our homes. These people are sleeping in their cars—many in their own driveways—to protect their loved ones from risk of contracting the virus. Is this fair? Absolutely not. 

None of this is fair. None of this is fathomable.

Her words reflect the perspective shift that is evolving day by day. As we witness the kind of merciless carnage the pandemic leaves in its wake. As we begin to let go of our relatively trivial concerns about returning to "normalcy" and start counting our blessings. 

This is our time to shine and show the world what we do. We are lucky enough to be teaching from home where we are safe and our families are safe. Do we want to work when we should be relaxing on spring break?  Of course not, but these are not ordinary circumstances. We need to come together and do what we were trained to do. Focus on the students. 

As we start thinking about the greater good. As the preciousness of life itself and our health is fully realized. Realized with the impact we often neglect to consider. 

I know it’s hard, but try to keep this all in perspective. It could be a lot worse. I do not know of one person who isn't making a sacrifice in this difficult time. It could be your work that keeps a student or parent indoors and, in turn, saves lives. The parents of students are grateful for the teachers, but it is not easy for them while they are also trying to work from home. Please just keep this in mind. 

As our minds adjust to a new reality. One where the human instinct to survive by attaining comfort and stability needs to be replaced by a willingness to sacrifice.

By: Rebecca Blank and Jordan Hiller

Wed, May 25 2022 24 Iyyar 5782