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A teacher’s five stages of grief for a fractured school year

‘I miss so many things: my students, my colleagues, the good days, the hard days’

A student closed the door behind him as he left Sarah Greenwood School in Dorchester in March as Boston Public Schools closed to try to reduce the spread of coronavirus.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

By the time Governor Baker announced that schools would be closed for the remainder of the year (“Schools will stay closed until Sept. at earliest,” Page A1, April 22), I had already gone through the other stages of grief: denial that we would be affected, bargaining (otherwise known as begging students to complete work), and anger that so many inequities were being revealed by this crisis. On April 21, I was simply in depression.

Although this closure was inevitable, I feel nothing but sadness. I grieve the loss of 70 or so precious days spent with my favorite teenagers. I grieve not being able to see them in person to make a quick assessment of whether they are OK emotionally and mentally. I grieve not being able to pull a student aside when they are not OK and finding out what is really going on. I grieve the loss of being taught by them far more than teaching them.


I miss so many things: my students, my colleagues, the good days, the hard days. I even miss the slight headache at the end of a long day that tells you it was a productive day. I still get those headaches, but now they come from far too much screen time. Any Zoom call longer than an hour can be mentally draining, especially if I am helping an individual student with an assignment. Even just working online is not enjoyable. I am sure the daunting task of completing two or three assignments, per class, per week, is not enjoyable — or motivating, or satisfying — for my students, either.

I am sad for the loss of closure. My students will not sit through their stress-inducing final exams, and we will not have the final week where everything feels surreal and students hug you each time they see you because each day feels like the last day. We will not take a class picture. I will not clean and pack up my classroom. I will not release a sigh of relief and accomplishment as I take my well-deserved summer vacation.


I grieve the loss of all these things.

Where is the final stage of grief? Acceptance, I know I will not find you.

Megan Lewis


The writer is an English teacher at Brighton High School.