By Jessica Easthope
You’ve heard the cheers and applause at 7 p.m. every night thanking those on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, but now a younger generation is showing its gratitude to first responders and essential workers in its own way.
Sandra Paz is a fourth grade teacher at Our Lady’s Catholic Academy in South Ozone Park, Queens. Her latest class project was inspired by a social media trend started thousands of miles away.
“I had read an article about how these rainbows in windows kept popping up in Italy as a result of COVID-19,and then somehow it had come over to Brooklyn,” she explained. “The little slogan that went with them in Italy was ‘tutto andare bene,’ everything will be alright.”
“We were looking for lessons that were going to be engaging and relevant, but you have to make it somehow fun for them,” she explained. “I did more research, and it had a name: ‘the Rainbow Connection.’”
For 10-year-old student Shawn Ortiz and his parents Manuel and Jasmin, the Rainbow Connection project is extra special.
“It makes me sad because I love them, and I don’t want them to get it, but i’m proud of them too,” Shawn told Currents News. “They’re doing a good job saving people from the virus.”
His dad Manuel works for the city, and his mom Jasmin works at a hospital. They’re forced to wear masks all day at work and now at home, in an effort to keep their family as safe as possible.
“On the average I’m working a 12 hour shift,” said Manuel. “We talk on a video chat and not even being able to kiss them anymore, something as simple as that, it’s very difficult.”
Jasmin says she’s seen the worst of what coronavirus has done to the people of New York City.
“There’s times when I just break down because it’s so much,” she said. “And we rely on our faith because that’s all we can turn to right now, and just pray and hope it disappears.”
But what won’t disappear are the rainbows. In fact, more are popping up every day.
“When I’m outside and I see the rainbows, I think, ‘Wow, someone’s actually thinking about me,’” Manuel explained. “That a kid took the time to draw that to thank us, it means a lot.”