'Giraffe-ter': COVID and us ...

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'Giraffe-ter': COVID and us ...

Posted: Thu, 26 Nov 2020 16:15

'Giraffe-ter': COVID and us ...

Hazel Fort, from the Chaplaincy team at Savio Salesian College, Bootle, finds the sparks of joy and humour in the 'COVID months' of school, and rediscovers a legendary Liverpool animal. (Image: Gerd Altmann on Pixabay)

What a strange world we live in!

Since March, we have had to adapt all aspects of our lives to the intransigencies of the new world we live in. At first, our only contact with our pupils was through Microsoft Teams and telephone calls to the most vulnerable of our students, as they stayed at home. Just a handful of students attended school, those sons and daughters of the key workers, and they betrayed their worries in their body language. It was hard enough lightening their burdens but we tried. I actually put together a joke book in those weeks, taken from the students themselves.

We had nothing to compare these times to.

Slowly, our students trickled back: those Year Ten students who were anxious about (surprisingly!) the amount of exam content they were missing. They looked at us wistfully, willing us to make 'the virus' go away.

Pandemics are not unknown. Indeed, St John Bosco lived through one. He did not have technology to fall back on.

It was as if God had gone away. Prayer was like searching a jungle in yearning for that comforting presence.

So, with all teaching continuing on Teams, what was missing?

Our students that's what.

Their presence; their humour, their shared joys and woes.

Their sharing.

Technology has yet to find a way of replacing your friends. That is where we find God – in our friends.

School: it was where they found their famous sense of humour; it was where they could share all aspects of their lives.

Then daily news bulletins were like the Plagues of Egypt and, like those Egyptians, one wondered what or when the next set of circumstances would be.

Fast forward to September.

Politicians promised that all schools would return.

They did.

Our students returned joyfully; groups coming down the road chatting like they hadn't seen each other for years, tumbling from buses, arm in arm, to a school which externally looked no different—did they expect it to?—but internally, became their new world, which they bravely adopted. Separated into bubbles; socially distancing; masked like so many forensic scientists; no more moving around the school; lessons split; lunches eaten at desks like embryo business executives—all these were accepted reluctantly, but they soon became the norm

It didn't matter, they were all together once more!

It also became the place where, like the Loch Ness monster, we re-discovered that infamous Liverpool animal: the giraffe-ter.

As in:

'Boys, do you think you could put your masks on?'

'Aw, Mi-i-ss! Giraffe-ter? We're only going next door! '

'Girls, would you mind spreading out? I know it's a pain but …'

'Aw Mi-i-ss! Giraffe-ter?'

If there is any humour to be had, in any situation, you can bet your bottom dollar, our students , consciously or unconsciously, will find it! Thank God! Thank God for our students. Thank God for their patience in dealing with awful situations. Thank God that the spirit of the two world wars which we celebrated on November 11 is still there! Thank God that we are indomitable – and alive!

Hazel Fort

Tags: Bootle, COVID-19, Homepage, Salesian Schools, Salesians of Don Bosco