Julie Smith, 4, and Henry Smith, 8, show off a few Easter goodies from their home in Jay. Submitted photo

JAY — “We got the call that school is probably done for the rest of the school year,” Liz Smith of Jay said on Wednesday, April 8. “It kind of hurt to hear and dropped my mood. That was a hard hit.”

“It made it more real,” her husband Josh Smith said.

That was the day Superintendent Scott Albert announced Regional School Unit 73 schools would be preparing for remote learning for the remainder of the school year, per Maine Commissioner of Education Pender Makin’s recommendation and Governor Mills’ approval of that recommendation.

“It makes me wonder when it is ever going to end,” Liz said.

The first Maine coronavirus cases were announced in March. As schools closed to students, we reached out to readers to see how they are handling new routines and new concerns in these uncertain times.

The Smith family answered the query and agreed to share how they are coping with staying at home during the pandemic.

Unable to interview the family in person, they invited me into their home for a virtual visit last week.

Henry Smith, 8, dressed in a suit for our interview.

“I wore this for my ukulele recital,” he told me.

He revealed a superhero costume he wore under his dress shirt.

“It gives me muscles,” he said, eyes filled with mischief.

He bubbled with excitement as he showed off pictures he drew in his journal.

Over the last week, Henry has learned to tie his shoes in a double knot, Liz said.

Julia Smith, 4, was more reserved but curious about the interview. She smiled sweetly and made sure she was in sight no matter where the phone camera pointed.

“Julia has been coloring and painting non-stop,” her mother said.

Josh is a truck driver and works for a company hauling cars, typically to places that are now hard hit by the pandemic. He was granted a leave of absence in early April.

His company will pay full medical benefits while Josh is on leave. If he works for another company locally, he will lose those benefits.

“The first three days were the hardest for him,” Liz said. “He had to figure out how to sit and relax and not be scheduled.”

“It was hard to figure out how to be here rather than being on the road five days a week,” he said. “We are getting a lot of projects done like spring cleaning the yard and painting the bathroom.”

“I have been trying to stay creative in the kitchen and just keep my mind busy,” Liz said.

As it is for most people, Easter is typically a time for family, Liz said Monday morning. With some creative social distancing, this year was no different.

“We normally spend Easter with my in-laws,” she said. “On Saturday, my mother-in-law and her husband came to our yard and brought baskets with treats for the kids. I usually make a dessert because she cooks so I dropped off some cupcakes the kids helped me make and decorate. It was nice to have that tradition stick.”

The Easter Bunny brought lots of fun stuff for the whole family to do, she added.

The Smith’s new routine seems to have fallen into place but the uncertainty of what is to come is certainly a worry.

“We’ll be okay until we are not okay,” Josh said.

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