Van Orman

Jessica Van Orman at home with her kids.

Jessica Van Orman talks about her experience in self-isolation and how the pandemic has affected her life.

How are you handling self-isolation?This has been hard, so hard. It’s probably been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do! Not only am I working full time from home, I’m also trying to teach my kids, manage their Zoom schedules, my Zoom schedules, my work, their work but on top of that really keeping a close eye on their mental health, my mental health, etc. So as far as handling it? We’re taking it one day at a time. We’re putting routines in place, we’re going outside (and, oh, so thankful we live in a place where we can spend time outdoors!). We’re walking a lot; we’re exercising more than ever; we’re trying to do things together as a family, but also we are giving each other space at times, to keep our sanity. We just try to keep moving forward by taking it one day at a time.

What has been the biggest challenge for you?I think the hardest part right now is staying away from the people we love the most. My extended family is very close and we all live in this community. My mom doesn’t just walk through the front door anymore, or come visit. I can’t stop in and see my nieces and nephew or give them hugs. I can’t visit or hang out with close friends. Our children are really struggling not being able to see their Meme and Grampa, their cousins, and their friends. Fortunately, technology keeps us all connected. It’s amazing how much something as simple as hugging a loved one is missed, but we can’t wait for the day where we can spend time with each other without worrying about getting someone sick. I am very thankful that I have my children and my husband and we can be together, but we miss all of our people.

What has been the most pleasant surprise?In crazy times like this there are always positive outcomes right? Let me just say our community is awesome. The people who are going above and beyond to just help others, are absolutely amazing. People are making masks, cooking working families dinners, volunteering to deliver meals, buying meals for essential workers, grocery shopping for people who are compromised, doing birthday drive-by parades for neighborhood kids, local businesses are out making deliveries or working hard to offer curbside services. Whatever it is, there are wonderful people in this community stepping up to make this time easier for others, and for that we should be very proud and grateful.

How much of what you’re doing do you think will you carry forward after the pandemic?There are a lot of ways to answer this question. As far as our family goes, I think when this is done, we’ll definitely make more time to get outside, more time to exercise, and to appreciate those little things, and time together even more. From a work angle, I’m the technology integration specialist at Barre Town School, my job is to help teachers use technology effectively in their classrooms. To say this has been a crazy and stressful time at work would be an understatement. But the teachers and staff are really stepping up and trying new things with technology and I couldn’t be more proud of the work they are doing for our kids. This is not easy! Going forward from here, we are going to have educators who are more skilled, and more willing to try new and innovative things with educational technology, which will only benefit our community of learners. As far as our community goes, I hope that after all of this, we continue to have an empathetic and compassionate community who takes care of its own. We’re doing a great job right now, I would only hope it’d continue.

And what do you feel the lessons will be that come out of all of this?Don’t take anything for granted! I miss getting in the car and going to work, driving my kids to sports practice, going to my mom’s for dinner, seeing my coworkers and my students face to face running into the store without worry, and just being near people in general. These are not big things, they are the small everyday things that we don’t even think about in normal times. However, I miss everyday normal things more than anything. I keep thinking about how wonderful it will feel to give my mom a hug, or to walk into my school building, or to hangout with people who don’t live in my house. I think from here on out, we will all be a little more grateful for everyday things, and we won’t take the simple things for granted.

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