They haven't shared a classroom with their students for weeks, but some Andover teachers found a way to get closer to the kids this week — without violating social distancing rules.
With their hazard lights on and their horns blazing, teachers at High Plain Elementary School in Andover held a car parade for their home-bound students Tuesday morning.
"I am super excited to see my students, even at a distance. It's been really difficult," said Janet Bowen, a third-grade teacher at High Plain Elementary School whose red Yukon XL was the "caboose" of the parade.
"We have a platform on Google Classroom as a school, which is awesome, but it's very distant and it's tough," she said from her car as she awaited the start of the parade.
"The kids are having a tough time,'' she said. "I am having a tough time. My own kids are having a tough time not being at school. They realize the stability it brings to their day."
Gov. Charlie Baker ordered the closure of all elementary and secondary schools until April 6 to fight the spread of the coronavirus. While the closure may have initially been exciting for students, seeing their teachers again this week — even from a distance — became a holiday of sorts for those like 9-year-old Nathan Burkett and his sister Catherine, 11, who were parked along the parade route with their mother.
While seated in the back of his mother's minivan, Nathan held a makeshift sign displaying the words "Miss You." But he admitted he only missed his teachers a "little bit."
"My mom isn't the best home-school teacher," said Nathan, who's in the fourth grade.
"She's really bad at directions," added Catherine.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, my mom is probably like a 1 or 2. My teachers are probably a 9 or 10," Nathan said.
After giving their mother a hard time, the Burkett children waved and held their signs high for their teachers who went past in their decorated sedans and SUVs, some with their names written on posters taped to their driver-side doors, others with balloons hanging out of the windows.
One of the educators all too happy to drive the route from River Road to Knollcrest Drive was Lisa Freeman, a kindergarten teacher at High Plain Elementary.
"I love it,'' she said. "It's a great way to connect with our kids, to see them, to show them we are still here and celebrate our family.''
And they did. At a safe social distance, a team of teachers came together to make a holiday out of an otherwise uncomfortable situation.