Local families turn to music, homework and service during COVID-instigated break
Parkites reacted differently to Governor Gary Herbert’s Friday announcement of a “soft closure” of Utah schools to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Mark and MaryBeth Maziarz were already thinking about keeping their two children, Daisy, 12, and Foster, 7, home from Weilenmann School of Discovery a couple of days before the announcement.
“We were expecting it, but Wednesday was the turning day for us when we realized things were getting pretty serious,” Mark said. “We started buckling down, and by Thursday we were already wondering if we should keep the kids home.”
Lance and Seth Rotchild, meanwhile, who respectively attend Park City High School and Ecker Hill Middle School, were thrilled about the school closures, but not thrilled for the reasons someone would expect.
“I was anticipating it to happen, because I felt it was the only way we could curb the spread of the virus,” said Lance, a 16-year-old junior. “So I was relieved when the announcement came.”
Seth, 7, said he felt a little sad, so he made plans to skateboard play a lot of video games before school assignments started to be given online.
“I knew the schoolwork will take a good four-hours of my day,” he said.
Seth’s sadness is also because the Utah Olympic Park has closed its operations due to COVID-19, which means he won’t be able to participate in his biggest hobby: ski jumping.
A few days ago, Seth, who has been jumping since he was 8, jumped a personal best of 16 meters.
“I love everything about ski jumping, but I only got to ski a little bit this season,” he lamented.
In the wake of the park closing, Seth said he plans to spend more time in his room playing “Fortnite.”
Like Seth, Lance also started making plans about how he was going to spend his days.
“I thought about what I normally do during my free time that would help me get by,” he said. “Music is therapy to me, and it is super helpful to me during times like these.”
Lance, who has played piano since he was 6, also plays guitar and sings, and his mother, Bari Nan, posted a live stream of his playing on Sunday and Monday nights.
“This is something that sort of happened, because my mom was very insistent,” Lance said. “She said she felt selfish being the only one listening, so she streamed my music.”
The budding musician enjoys streaming his music because his Facebook friends can comment and make requests.
“I also think the (posts) serve a purpose by bringing people together through music,” he said. “Music is super powerful that way, and I hope it helps people during these hard times.”
Still, Lance knows that school assignments will be coming his way via the internet very soon, due to the school district’s planned curriculum.
“I figured I would have a significant amount of the day dedicated to school work, but other than that there is music,” he said.
Although Weilenmann has trickled in some assignments online, the Maziarzes said all of the lessons for the next two weeks should be posted by Wednesday, and while Mark and MaryBeth expect Daisy and Foster to spend a couple of hours on one assignment and a couple of hours on another, they expect the children to figure out when to do the assignments.
“We’re kind of like Montessori parents where we tell them what needs to happen by the end of the day and they can do it in the order they want,” MaryBeth said. “We can also go with the flow a little bit.”
“As of note, that is working better with the 12 year old than the 7 year old,” Mark said with a laugh.
In between the school work, the family has enjoyed some unexpected together time, and have spent an afternoon playing Pictionary and enjoying the outdoors, according to MaryBeth.
“There was an odd kind of anticipation about it,” she said. “There is some excitement about if you’re fortunate enough to not be juggling a bunch of jobs or working at a business that might be closing.”
That’s something that the Maziarzes, who both work from home, have thought about a lot over the past few days.
“Mark and I talked about this, and while we appreciate having time together, we know there are so many people who are in dire straits,” MaryBeth said.
Many of the people the Maziarzes worry about work in small local businesses and restaurants that have been forced to close down until the end of the month due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and these are the people who Bari Nan and Jeffrey Rothchild — Lance and Seth’s parents — who own a consulting business, Proforma Peak Printing and Promotions, hope to help with a new website, Pcgiftcards.com.
The Rothchilds are working with Cindy Levine, owner of Intrigue, Design by Cindy, an interior design service, on the website.
“We kept thinking of ways we could get people to buy gift certificates from local small businesses who need support right now, so we came up with the website,” Bari Nan said. “It was Cindy who took to Facebook to ask how best to organize a way to help these businesses. Jeff had the website idea, and I built it.”
The website charges no fees, so all the money can benefit the businesses and their employees, according to Bari Nan.
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