Is 'sheltering at home' the new normal?

Apr 24, 2020 at 08:00 am by Voice Wire

La Vergne High School Dr. Kyle Nix

Normalcy. 

From health care to the economy and from entertainment to education, over the past few months, Americans and residents from countries around the world have been struggling to regain a sense of normalcy in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that has kept much of the world "sheltering at home." 

Back on Monday, March 16, Dr. Kyle Nix, an assistant principal at La Vergne High School could have never imagined on the first canceled day of classes for Rutherford County Schools that students, teachers, staff members and administrators alike would not return their respective facilities to complete the 2019–20 school year.

There was a universal consciousness of uncertainty.

Wanting to do whatever she could to prevent that from becoming a paralyzing anxiety, Nix planned her "normal Tuesday morning announcements" only now she would record them with her iPhone and post the message online through Twitter.

"I don't know who's listening," Nix said, "but if I could just get some information out to our kids like I would on the morning announcements, I thought that might be good for consistency and normalcy for them." 

She added, "I just figured if I was going to do it on that day, why not just do it every day?"

And that is exactly what Nix has done every weekday since March 17.

Her ongoing Daily Check-In, as she refers to it, has been a mix of important information for students as well as birthday announcements and other messages that would have been part of the video announcements had the school year continued as originally scheduled.

Unique to social media, there is also a daily hashtag.

"My personality is being silly and creative," said Nix, who recently completed her doctoral work. "I like to make people smile and I have no shame when it comes to just being myself. Right now, we're living in this kind of doom and gloom atmosphere. I think everyone's really struggling and so just to be a little bit of light was my overall goal. 

"It provided me a way to have some normalcy as well.

"This is the new norm," Nix continued, "and we've got to find a way to be able to live in this and if we're going to use technology and use the Internet to connect with our students and with our communities then I think this was just a good way to get my feet wet." 

With the recent announcement that students would not be returning to school, Nix began thinking of more ways to connect with students through social media, video streaming and other digital platforms.

This week, she began offering seniors an opportunity to connect on Mondays through Microsoft Teams for what she branded "Coffee and Conversation" and is planning to do the same on Fridays for everyone else.

Those conversations will be open to whoever is participating and range from mental health concerns to reminiscing about their favorite memories of attending La Vergne High. 

"Every day I had those same conversations with kids in the hallways and in the cafeteria, so this was kind of blending that together," Nix said. "They need that connection. I need that connection. We all need it.

"And along those same lines, I would like to come up with something similar to offer for adults, where I can do that with faculty members. I think educators—administrators and teachers—we also need to be able to have a way to get together and just talk about what's going on and how we can navigate this situation and I don't mind being the one to start that." 

Although the school year had been scheduled to end May 27, Nix said she plans to continue her ‘Daily Check-In' and other social engagements throughout the summer and into next school year. 

"I don't think it would hurt to continue," Nix said. "They're on Twitter all the time anyway and it's one more thing to look at it. It's like a minute and a half, though, I do have to record it like a hundred times before I get it right."

As with her in-school messages, the most important sense of normalcy is that Nix ends every social media video post with: "It's a great day to be a Wolverine."

By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT, Rutherford County Schools



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