The past 8 weeks have altered many of our routines around our home and finances. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I want to share how training at the school I work at prepared me for the Coronavirus crisis.
Every school in the US has some sort of training for active shooter incidents. After many years of these training classes I have learned that the normalcy bias can be the difference between surviving a crisis and not making it. The normalcy bias is the brain’s tendency to want to normalize events that might point a problem. We don’t want to seem foolish by over-reacting, so we do nothing and assume things are OK until somebody else tells us there is a problem. If school employees hear altercations, popping noises, or screaming, we are trained to begin taking action.
I used this training to ease our household into preparing for the spread of Coronavirus.
- At the end of January I asked my husband if we should make a reservation for a regional vacation instead of flying somewhere. I asked around to friends to see if they had any recommendations (now even this seems unlikely). We opted to stop talking about international vacations for this year.
- As the virus spread to Italy, I began thinking of our food and household needs. We have a small home and don’t typically stockpile much of anything. I try to be dairy free so I sourced some shelf-stable soy milk and made sure we were ahead of the curve with toilet paper. I bought a little extra each week at the grocery store.
- When the virus hit Kirkland, Washington, I was in full-on prep mode. We celebrated my daughter’s birthday with her friend at Shake Shack, thinking it might be our last opportunity to dine out (correct on that one). We bought flour, sugar, toilet paper, electrolyte drinks, fever reducer, and confirmed that the thermometer still worked. Should have bought some yeast! I bought disinfecting wipes and latex gloves and wondered if I had gone too far.
- When the virus began to show up in New York and on cruise ships, we started to reduce our outings outside of school and work. Sniff Sniff, that included Starbucks. We got haircuts and a brow wax and I squeezed in a cavity filling at the dentist. By that point I was a little creeped out being at the dentist. We also stopped selling Girl Scout cookies at booths even though our council still allowed it, and I am glad we did.
I definitely encountered other people’s normalcy bias as the virus unfolded across the country. Our school was planning an all school event that involved playing games. I inquired as to whether that would be safe having everyone touch the same objects for the games. The response was, “The health department hasn’t advised us not to.” Normalcy bias. (By the time the event would have happened we were closed, I rest my case.) My extended family also implied I was excessively concerned about these problems occurring elsewhere.
There’s definitely a delicate balance between over-prepared and under-prepared. My husband and I seem to be on the same wavelength and we have appreciated the preparations we have each contributed (I ordered a hair clippers early on, he has made sure we have hand soap and vitamins). I continue to think about how Coronavirus might affect us moving forward, especially as to how it might affect my job in the school setting come fall.
How have you adapted to the pandemic? Are you an early preparer, or did the closures take you by surprise?