Updated: May 22
It's been a hard week as a human and a small business owner during this pandemic. We agonized about whether to continue spring break coding camp this week. We wanted to keep ourselves safe but didn't want to let the families down if they needed childcare. We don't issue refunds but do provide credit. Late Thursday almost a week ago, two cases of the coronavirus were confirmed in Travis County. Austin Independent School District would close the very next day, the Friday before spring break. Camp was planned to start on Monday Mar 16th with 6 students. I was sure there would be cancellations but didn't hear a word. 2 siblings decided to participate virtually - a challenge for 6 hours a day - and the other 4 students showed up on the first day. We had a good time introducing Scratch and Python and playing old maid, trivia games, and Minecraft.
When one parent came to pick up his child, he had misgivings about safety and asked about my cancellation policy. He would later withdraw over e-mail. Later that evening, the City of Austin closed bars and restaurants, and groups of 10 were prohibited from gathering. The next morning, a parent called to withdraw her child from the camp, and we received e-mail from another concerned parent pulling out her child. They were dropping like flies. Luckily for morale, that day when 3 students left, the 2 remote students came into the studio for camp.
We are more than halfway through the camp and I'm enjoying the coding and the campers, but I will look forward to the camp ending due to the risk and exposure it brings us. We require handwashing throughout the day, send sick kids and staff home, and are disinfecting nightly, but there is still risk to all of us. Sadly, we already had one regular student drop, citing concerns for their family's small business. I feel their pain!
It's been a sad, scary, uncertain time where I worry about friends, family, staff, and customers. I count my blessings though that we were able to quickly transition to Virtual Classroom without any problems other than poor connections. I look forward to normalcy where we can worry about growth instead of retention. I've been doing more teaching than usual during these strange times, and I really enjoy working with the kids. I watch as I host these remote sessions and manage the camp, and I am so proud of our instructors and what we have built at My Coding Place. This week's camp may be a little terrifying but I will always remember it too because it is the first camp where my almost-7 year olds have been actively coding, and that makes me a proud mama! Stay safe everyone!