The longest year


Time flies when you’re having fun, which explains why 2020 has been the longest year since the asteroid traveling at 40,000 mph crashed into the Yucatan Peninsula 66 million years ago, wiping out nearly 80 percent of life on earth and disappointing thousands of spring breakers.

Kind of puts 2020 in perspective, doesn’t it?

The pandemic and the reaction to it have pretty much taken all the fun out of every equation. Even that observation will certainly be met with scorn. Who can think about fun at a time like this?

No one, apparently. Especially small business owners who have lost everything, not to mention wage-earners whose jobs don’t afford them the luxury of working from home.

Still, fun was an early casualty of 2020, as every public event, major and minor, was wiped off the social calendar, from the Festival by the Lake and July Fourth to Festival Italia and the Holiday Stroll.

Schools were shut down, then went remote and then went “hybrid.”

One-way aisles were instituted in supermarkets and the only police not targeted for defunding were the Mask Police.

And now, for the first year in my long memory, Santa’s Headquarters is not on the Common in December. At 1,750 years old, Santa falls in the Extreme High-Risk category. (There’s a reason they call him Old St. Nick.)

Public meetings have also been impacted. I never thought I’d say it, but I miss covering meetings in person. (OK, not all of them.)

Like anything else, Zoom has its advantages and disadvantages.

Take the mute button, for example.

The advantage is that participants can be muted. The disadvantage is that participants can be muted, prompting the now familiar chorus of “Unmute!” (“Unmute” is also my nominee for 2020 Word of the Year.)

In one way, I was ahead of the times. Long before COVID, I had gotten away from covering School Committee Meetings in person, opting instead to watch WCAT’s coverage from home. That way, no one would question my social-emotional wellness if I nodded off during a discussion of the efficacies around competency-based, cross-curricular methodologies within professional learning communities.

I was still going out to cover Town Council and ZBA meetings in person before the plague struck, the better to keep a straight face when collecting my paycheck.

Now everything is remote, and I wonder if we’ll ever go back to live, in-person meetings again, even after the restrictions are lifted. Or will we remain content to interact only as sterile, pixelated images flickering on a screen?

Time will tell. In the meantime, don’t forget to unmute.

[This column originally appeared in the December 17, 2020 Wakefield Daily Item.]

2 Responses to “The longest year”

  1. 1 John Breithaupt

    Nice humor. « competency-based, cross-curricular methodologies within professional learning communities. ». Love it.

    • 2 Mark Sardella

      Thanks, John. I view translating Eduspeak into English one of my most important duties.

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