Sometime early Sunday morning, my house lost power. So did my town. So did my school in the next town over. It’s now Tuesday morning, and some parts of town have power back, but most of the town is still troubled. And last I heard, school was still down.
My school is working on delivering content and instruction by internet, but we’re certainly not able to provide the kind of face-to-face instruction we’re used to providing. It’s a challenge.
In the meantime, I and my neighbors have been commiserating about the nature of our houses and their ramshackle collection of services and capabilities. THis one’s house is warm because of extra insulation. That one has heat because there’s an old gas furnace with a mechanical rheostat. My house is cold because I have a gas furnace, but the rheostat is electric. BUT, I have an old gas-powered water heater, so I have hot water. No one has a gas stove, so we’re borrowing one another’s grills to heat water and cook meat. All of us are wearing extra layers and hats.
A lot of this came about because it’s been unseasonably warm for October, but then we got hit by a freak snowstorm. It’s been astonishing — moderately sized young trees have snapped horizontally right across the trunk, because the leaves have held the snow up, instead of the bare branches letting it fall to the ground. Other trees have cracked along the ratchet lines, losing large limbs and major sub-trunks. As they fell, these branches took out power and communications lines, and blocked roads. Out of ninety transformer stations in the state of Connecticut, allegedly forty-one failed.
My home city is large, and I imagine that we’re on a priority list to get power back. My school is in a small town, and we’re not last in line — but we’re not first, either. Day by day, I’ve been informed by our head of school that we have no power still, and we won’t have school tomorrow. Two days out so far… and we may lose the week.
I wondered aloud a year ago about what kinds of disruptions it takes for a school or a school system to collapse, and for parents and teachers to take other roads to learning and education. A lot of it was in the then-context of the Central Falls, RI, decision to shut down their high school and try to remake it. What have we heard about since then? Not so much nationally. And we know that most education systems are granfaloonish in style, rather than karassic.
I hardly think my school is going to go out of business or shut down for not being physically open for a week. Please don’t think that. It’s not on my agenda at all. But I do wonder at moments like these, what it takes for a school or a school system to collapse. At what point do parents decide on an alternate education model en masse, and teachers similarly decide to seek alternate income sources? What does it take for a school to collapse?
It’s a question a lot more schools should ask.