As a second grade teacher in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Candice Fallon is always thinking about the spread of germs.
“My second graders aren’t the best at keeping germs to themselves,” Fallon told We Are The Mighty. “When I initially heard about coronavirus, I was concerned about the fact that it would spread so easily.”
When the novel coronavirus began circulating around Pennsylvania and the nation, Fallon’s senses heightened. She was no longer just worried about herself or her students.
Candice Fallon, like many schoolteachers, has transitioned to a Google Classroom during quarantine.
Courtesy of Candice Fallon
“I was worried about bringing home any germs to my son as he has asthma,” she shared, referencing her toddler son, Tristan.
Almost immediately, Fallon’s school shuttered and she transitioned into an online teaching platform, a routine that was entirely new to the 31-year-old educator.
“Initially, we were sending emails to parents of activities that they could do online,” Fallon explained. “After two weeks, we switched over to all online education. We moved to all teachers having a Google classroom and all teachers pushing out lessons through an educational resource called Clever-Edmentum. Each week, I push out instructions online for all subjects: reading, writing, math, science/social studies. Prior to this, I had no knowledge of how to use Google classroom. It has been a lot of work setting that up and keeping in contact with parents, trying to get them all connected to our new classroom.”
Just one example of a virtual lesson for her second grade class.
Courtesy of Candice Fallon
Though she makes it seem effortless, Fallon’s pivot in teaching is just a small part of how COVID-19 has impacted her central Pennsylvania family.
“My husband lost his job due to his employer closing temporarily, so that has been a challenge figuring things out financially,” she said. “In addition, both my parents are still working. My mom is a nurse and my father is semi-retired and works part time at a grocery store.”
Fallon’s father, Scott Heller, works in the produce department at his local Giant Food Store.
“When COVID-19 first arrived in Pennsylvania, I didn’t think it would shut the whole state down,” he told We Are The Mighty. “But I can see why they have done so to stop the spread of the disease. It appears that it may be working.”
Fallon shared that his employer encourages them to wear masks to help protect themselves while working and that shoppers have similar lists.
“Everyone wants the same few items: toilet paper, Lysol wipes and meat,” Scott Heller explained. “These products sold out as quickly as they came in. As time has passed, Giant has gotten many items back into stock, but you can tell people are buying more than usual because they don’t plan on returning to the store as often. People that would typically shop once a week now are coming every two or three weeks.”
On the other side of the front line, Heller’s wife, Bonnie, works as an operating room nurse at the local hospital.
As an operating room nurse, Bonnie still reports to work everyday.
“A nurse is always on the front lines,” Bonnie Heller shared. “The hospital is never closed. Once the governor shut things down, the hospital stopped all elective surgeries. With the operating room being slow, I was told I may be asked to work elsewhere in the hospital. I want to help and enjoy taking care of others.”
Through it all, Fallon shares that the hardest part of handling coronavirus hasn’t been transitioning to a virtual classroom or teaching preschool to her son, but the missed quality time with her parents.
“It’s been hard not to see family,” she said. “My son has asthma and loves spending time with his grandparents. Since they are still working, we cannot see them in person due to possibly sharing germs. We are doing lots of FaceTiming.”
Fallon’s parents agree.
“It’s hard not being able to spend time with the ones you love,” Bonnie Heller added. “I am hopeful that it will end sooner than later.”