When I was a lad, I used to sit in the kitchen listening to the radio, barely able to breathe as school closures were announced. At times the list seemed to be organized with the specific intent of driving those children in Boulder Valley RE-2 mad with anticipation. We certainly had our share of disappointments, as our hearty pioneer town's spirit was generally rewarded with a slog to school in all kinds of inclement weather. It snows in Colorado. Get used to it, kid.
But on those rare occasions when the roads truly were impassible and the forecast was for even more, we got what we wanted: A chance to spend the day playing outside.
And that's pretty much what I expected when the Oakland Unified School District chose to fall in line with the rest of the Bay Area and cancel classes for the Friday before Thanksgiving Break. What would be gained by sending those children hearty enough to brave the last day before a week off into the poisonous cloud that had been plaguing the area for the past week? More and more kids had been showing up to school in masks, along with their parents, certain that any exposure to the atmosphere would cause them to melt into a choking mass of spasms. I didn't have the heart to explain how bitterly all of those students had taken the pill handed to them called "indoor recess." They would happily run and kick balls and climb and chase one another until they dropped. The powers that be just didn't want to be responsible for that last part.
So we got a smoke day. It was announced just as school was being dismissed for the day on Thursday, and I heard the news first from a group of third graders. Which is precisely why I doubted it. Then our crossing guard approached me with the same proclamation. Which is right about the time my phone began to buzz. An email delivered directly to me, from the superintendent, telling me that I didn't need to come to work the next day. We were getting an extra day right before our scheduled vacation.
Which I used to come into school for a couple hours, to straighten up and prepare for the next time we all got together to do the teaching thing. On my way down the hill, I saw one of my little charges jumping rope on the sidewalk. Braving the elements. "Mister Caven!" she cried, "What are you doing? There's no school!" Her face was squished into a knot of confusion that mostly found on second grade girls.
"I'm just going to go in and clean some things up," I replied. And enjoy the day of quiet.