COOLIDGE — The coronavirus pandemic has required most people to approach their day-to-day in new ways, from ordering take-out at restaurants to working from home.
With communities across American being asked to practice social distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19, the measure has also left many students in limbo as Arizona schools have been ordered by Gov. Doug Ducey closed through the remainder of the academic year.
With so much uncertainty over when the pandemic will be contained, many teachers and administrators have chosen to band together to spread a little bit of cheer to students during uncertain times.
This was the case for staff from Imagine Elementary School Coolidge, which held a car parade to remind students that they are not alone during this time.
Dubbed the Imagine Teachers Rising Up Car Parade, the procession drove through a number of Coolidge subdivisions on the afternoon of March 24. Staff members and onlookers were asked to adhere to a number of guidelines to keep the possibility of spreading COVID-19 minimal.
Students were asked to remain on their front porches as the procession made its way down subdivision streets. Likewise, staff members were also asked to remain in their vehicles.
Teachers decorated their vehicles with signs and balloons, spreading messages of hope and letting students know that they are greatly missed.
More than 40 vehicles made up the caravan, and many blasted different types of uplifting music — including “Happy” by Pharrell Williams — as they traveled through neighborhoods.
The parade began at 2:30 p.m. and made its way through Heartland Ranch, Landmark Ranch, Elizabeth Ranch, Coolidge Country Village and Picacho Crossing.
This may be the first of several vehicle parades, said Chris Steward, program director for the Imagine Elementary choir and one of the organizers of the event.
“We do realize that there are other areas in Coolidge where our students live,” he said. “So as long as the schools are going to be closed in the state of Arizona, we will probably do at least two more just to keep the kids in neighborhoods that we weren’t able to hit encouraged.”
Imagine Elementary is not the first school to take on the endeavor of keeping students spirits up during these novel times. The idea, Steward said, was initially recommended by another staff member who had seen a district in her hometown run the vehicle parade. Schools from the Casa Grande Elementary School District also held a similar parade on Wednesday.
“The purpose is to keep the kids encouraged and know that everything is going to be okay,” Steward said. “We’re still here for them, (and) we’re looking forward to seeing them back at school.”