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Bay Area Communities Find Creative Ways to Stay in Touch While Social Distancing

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Shelter-at-home orders and public health calls for social distancing have not stopped communities across the Bay Area from finding creative ways to come together.

In Mill Valley, residents have been joining in on a “community howl,” howling like wolves together at 8 p.m. from the safety of their homes. Most cannot see each other, but they can certainly hear one another.

The organizer of this nightly ritual says it’s an effort to show solidarity with healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. Residents who join each night say it’s also a chance to blow off steam.

“It’s really become a wonderful little touchstone during these trying times for everybody to know that at 8 o’clock in the evening, dusk comes in, kids, dogs, moms and neighbors are going to come out and howl,” said Mill Valley resident Ken Brooks.

Howling is Mill Valley’s unique spin. In some cities there’s applause, in some cities they sing.

In San Francisco there was a coming together of a different kind.

A group of second-graders and their parents decided they needed to see their teacher, so they organized a parade -- in their cars.

“We just wanted Miss Harty to know that we miss her,” said Kristi Meloney, a parent. “I think all the students miss her, she’s a very special teacher.”

None of the 32 students were able to see Megan Harty for long because they couldn’t stop, and Harty had to keep a safe distance. But even the brief glimse of her in person was powerful, as was the short meetup before the parade.

“We all met in the parking lot, we all got to see each other, we all sat on the roofs and stuff,” said student Brooklyn Castillo.

This was a surprise, and it was a welcomed one. Like most teachers in the Bay Area, she hasn’t seen her students in person in two weeks.

“I miss them,” said Harty, who teaches at Our Lady of Angels, a Catholic school in Burlingame. “It’s been very hard not to see them. Teaching is not supposed to be a job where we’re on a computer screen. I’m used to my chit-chats with them every day, and checking in with them and walking around the classroom.”

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