How Teacher Training Prepared me for Coronavirus

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?






11 thoughts on “How Teacher Training Prepared me for Coronavirus

  1. "No Pension, Will Travel!" with Cheryl + Paul

    Jen, I’m impressed. I thought we were more prepared than most of our circle, but you were so far ahead that perhaps they should put you in charge of pandemic planning or media coverage there. We took some action as early as Feb.1, but were not quite ready to make those kinds of changes. Then, on Valentines Day, we were blindsided by an unrelated family emergency, so we lost almost a month, by which time, the world had changed. Fortunately, we’d always “bought the sales” and keep a well-stocked pantry. In recent years, we’ve worked at being better prepared for The Big One, that west-coast earthquake they keep promising us, not to mention forest fires, of which we’ve had more than our share of late. So, we’re faring OK. And our Valentines emergency has largely been successfully resolved, although it’s still influencing our actions. Glad you and your family are doing well. Yes, and as for international travel, my “best case” scenario is late 2021. 😦

    1. Jen @ HealthfulSaver Post author

      Ha ha, you made me smile there. Always a pleasure to hear from you guys. Certainly living in the area you do would give good practice for potentially having to leave home.
      Same here on the international travel… past trips seem like a dream or another lifetime entirely. When you take everything away, you can see what you really yearn for. I really want to get back to England. We are fortunate to both still be receiving our paychecks so we can at least save for a future trip.
      This experience definitely reinforced my thoughts that one should always say yes to any sort of travel if you can pay for it.

      1. "No Pension, Will Travel!" with Cheryl + Paul

        For sure! Our experiences are our valued treasures. Since retiring a few years ago, we’ve run into some health challenges. Still managing to travel – cycled from Amsterdam to Bruges last September – but it’s had to compete with other priorities. I keep meaning to get back to the blog posts, but writing on other subjects as stolen those cycles. Maybe now, with a long hiatus looming, I’ll catch up on some of our past adventures. A different perspective that time brings. And yes, time is all we have. And not a huge amount of that! Stay safe, stay sane!

  2. brandib1977

    I grew up in the country in a one car household so I’ve always had a preparedness mentality. You never know when you might get snowed in and running to the store just to get one thing isn’t an option. So I basically was born for quarantine! Lol. That in mind, about a week before our governor started shutting things down, I went from having a month (or more) of food and supplies on hand to more like three or four. I’m vegetarian so I like having fresh produce but have learned to adapt. 🙂

    All that said- I’m so glad you were able to apply your professional training to other areas of your life and hope you continue to stay safe!

    1. Jen @ HealthfulSaver Post author

      I too have come to treasure fresh produce! We stocked up a bit on things like frozen cauliflower and broccoli, and they’re Ok but can’t compare to fresh.
      I planted radishes and kale, and now it’s really rainy so I hope the seeds didn’t get lost. Going through the quarantine has definitely given me an appreciation for the way people lived before cars.

      1. brandib1977

        Yes!! I can’t imagine life without a car and stores!

        I also stocked up on frozen veggies and tend to make a produce run every ten to fourteen days. I’ve figured out how to make my spinach last a little longer and to eat the tender fruit before the apples. So I’m not exactly suffering- it’s just different.

  3. anexactinglife

    You were so far ahead! We are only prepared for the kinds of emergencies we normally get: hurricanes, snow storms and power outages. We keep a good first aid kit and some cash. Have 2 or 3 days worth of food we can heat on the barbecue if necessary, but we don’t stock up. Would never have imagined an “emergency” with power, heat and Internet! As the Covid situation heated up, I took a pantry inventory and stocked up on 2 weeks of non-perishables including UHT milk. This week, after 7 weeks at home, I was able to get a bottle of household disinfectant and some yeast! But I’ve been going out for fresh produce regularly. I am still happy I got a hair cut the first week of March – it’s faring well (Rom has always done his own with clippers and I “clean it up.”) We are very sad not to see Rom’s parents in the UK this year – I expect we’ ll be lucky if we get a “normal” visit in 2021.

    1. Jen @ HealthfulSaver Post author

      Ooh yeast! Nice score! I’m sorry to hear you won’t be able to go to the UK this year…. it’s odd to think of saving for travel of any sort at this point. RVs are goi g to have a hey day.
      Here in the Midwest we are seeing LOTS of cases in places that manufacture food… meat, pizza crust, shredded cheese. I’m wondering how factory food will be sustained.

  4. Laura Beth

    We started preparing as the news worsened at the end of January-early February. I’m so grateful that we went to BJ’s in January and stocked up on paper products then! We just started restocking toilet paper last week, and we supported a local business at the same time. It’s been disappointing to not go out to eat or go to the movies (Our main weekend activities for years), but that’s okay. We’ve been working from home, and that’s been the toughest adjustment for me. As an ambivert, my extroverted side was absolutely devastated, and my anxiety went up and down for a while. But, I’m all for keeping everyone safe. I miss hugging my family. But, I’m grateful that my parents live close by. And my 94-year-old Grandpa was moved to Virginia safely – He’s living with my parents now – at the end of March. I’m choosing to focus on the positive and being in a state of gratitude. I’m writing and blogging again, now deep into editing the first draft of my first novel. I’m listening to more podcasts, and enjoying being less rushed, less stressed (aside from hiccups through work), and spending as much time with my husband and our dogs as possible. We walk our dogs twice a day, and we are riding our bikes around the neighborhood when the weather is nice. Hugs to you!

    1. Jen Post author

      How wonderful that your parents were able to take your Grandpa and that it was an option for him. It seems like a bad idea to have the COVID people discharged to care homes to recover if its true that they can still shed the virus.
      We too really enjoy going out to eat, both as a family or as a date now that our daughter is a teen and can be alone. We have tried to get some take out from local businesses, including one that delivers par bake empanadas.
      I have gotten a ton of reading done, now I just need kids to recommend books to! “The Book of Boy” is astonishing and was .99 on AMZ recently. I am nervous about going back to the library to work.
      Hugs back at ya!


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