by June Lin, Leichuan Waldorf school Taichung/ Taiwan
Dear Christof Wichert,
I believe and wish you and your family and your colleagues in Europe all stay healthy during the COVID-19!
Thank you very much for your warm and full of wisdom articles, School in Times of Corona on 3/25 and Teachers' meetings in times of Corona on 4/20 to Waldorf teachers worldwide! I felt your good thoughts and also social beauty you’ve brought in this special situation! I like your words of distinguishing the “physical distance,” and the “social distance,” and the “togetherness”. I have translated these two articles from English to Chinese and have sent them out to Chinese speaking friends of Waldorf schools and institutes as many as possible!
After reading your articles, I felt like writing to you to report our school’s latest situation in Taiwan as kind of feedback to you! In Taiwan, because of the good jobs from the government for the people on the epidemic prevention so far, almost every school, from kindergarten to university, has been attending school normally. Only very, very few classes have class suspension situation in the very beginning on March. So until now, apart from wearing masks, basically our lives have not changed much. The only obvious changes are our less access to public places, less travelling, and fewer gatherings.
Regarding to the epidemic prevention and your mentioning of “togetherness”, I’d like to share an incident which was involving the holding of our class eight “drama performance” by the end of last month with you. The incident passed and the problems also solved, however, we’ve actually gone through quiet a crisis process of happening, processing and solving of it. And in the end, we learnt a lot from it which is concerning of what you said, the meaning of “togetherness.”
I wish you be interested in such a thing of processing. It was quite complicated. To finish this letter, I’ve been writing for 10 days because writing English is so difficult for me! If there are still grammatically wrong, please forgive me!
To hold “drama performance” is only part of the class 8 lessons. However, as you know, we have to plan a year before, so that the teacher, Peter Schmidt could come to Taiwan from Germany to direct the drama. We set up the time from 2/10 to 3/14 for this year. But because of the outbreak of Corona virus, our government suddenly announced postponing 2 weeks for all the schools’ new semester openings, and changed the dates from 2/10 to 2/25. Due to this cutting of 2 weeks’ lessons, and also because of Taiwan being so close to China, Taiwan was suspended being dangerous then. Peter hesitated if he should come. After communicating with his family and some adjustment of our school course, Peter decided to come, but only from 2/25 to 3/21, while our students’ performance on 3/27 and 3/28.
After a week later of the drama lesson, concerning about the COVID-19 situation, we decided to move the indoor theater outdoor, on the playground. Though it was only early March, the sun has already enthusiastically touched the ground in the central part of Taiwan, Taichung. It was rather difficult task for the teachers and the class students to work under the sun. Though the drama was such an exciting experience for students, they were so easily distracted, because their practicing and rehearsals were all in the outdoors, with other children playing around, too! But, no matter how, all the teachers and the students still willingly kept on going.
Peter should have leaving on 3/21, however, owing to the outbreak has invaded Europe, German government announced that schools must close then. It was good for us that Peter could stay longer until the students’ performance on 3/27 and 3/28. We felt much released!
Unexpectedly, this last week before the show, some of our lower classes parents, without letting us know or discuss or communicate their fear of the COVID-19, and their strongly opposed the drama to be held in the school campus. One class one parent went to the city government to raise their objection about our school drama performance. Because of this, the Education Bureau had to phone and gave us warnings and suggested us cancel the drama activities.
Why? How should we? From the view point of law and of epidemic prevention measurement, we have already been handling this “drama” event legally and carefully. Only, we didn’t consider deep enough how lower class parents would have worried about having drama meant having people gathering which is so life-threatening feelings for them.
We had a teachers’ meeting quickly, and then we fully understood how the government needed to do their jobs; also, how those parents’ feelings about the COVID-19, their wanting to protect their children and protecting our school as well. However, we also considered class 8 students’ expectation and feelings. To simply call for an immediate end to the drama performance was unjust and cruel to class 8. The students had worked so hard for one whole month under the sun, and had broken so many difficulties, and they almost worked out all the aims they set for themselves. They were ready and so expecting to show their progressed works which is also a kind of need in their development.
As teachers, we know the situation of the COVID-19. We even had some unsaying words, our enemy was not the COVID-19 then; our conflict and confrontation was actually the feelings of fear inside of our parents. There was nothing to be complaining really, anyway. We must take the task to make the show get onto the stage possible; to stand up for class 8 and to speak up for their performance opportunity. We decided to do the parent communication as soon as possible. We needed to have many understanding consultations with them then.
Thus, to the school meetings firstly, and then to the bridge meetings of the Core Group Meeting (where the number of representatives of parents and teachers are equal) and the Parent- Committee Meeting (where the participants are parents’ representatives from all 12 classes and 3 representatives from our school); besides, Lines, school Newsletters, and individual phone calls to some parents; and later, even our high school students made a 3 minutes- 35 seconds video to express their reasons to support class 8 Performance. (Please link to YouTube https://youtu.be/BLiPpvM-29s ).
In the end, by the last day before the drama performance, the parents who were objected agreed. When the day the performance was on, our school students’ not only showed the drama, but also the teachers’ capability of anti-epidemic measures and the cooperating audience of parents with limited participants, with mask and with physical distance. The most importantly, through this process, we felt the students, the teachers, and the parents got together; the whole school community reunited once again! The fruits of togetherness are really sweet! It also lasts quite long, until now still...
This incident happened within a short period of time, less than one week. Dealing with the school performance in Times of Corona is such a big challenging, but so worthy of doing it! We all learn a lot from it. They are social arts of respecting, listening, understanding, and finding ways of carrying out in between and among. We realized again that crisis is only meaningful, whenever we are ready to face it and work it out together! Your “togetherness” is really so important!
Look forward to hearing from you and seeing you for the third Child-Study
To help you a better picture of our audience and the performance, I also attached a photo of the "mask audience" on Friday.