SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – As federal, state, and local government and health care leaders look to reduce the spread of the coronavirus through social distancing, borough residents are being faced, literally overnight, with finding ways to adjust to a 'new normal.’ 

A fancy way of telling people to avoid close contact with others, social distancing is intended to slow down the spread of the disease. As a result, in South Plainfield, school has switched entirely to a virtual learning platform; worship services are being live streamed; government offices and borough-run agencies, along with non-essential businesses are closed to the public; there are curfews and purchase limits in effect; and long-planned events have been canceled or postponed. 

With stores, offices, and businesses closed, the school day ending at 1 p.m., and any and all activities halted, residents are looking for fun - and safe – ways to keep busy. Over just the first week, South Plainfielders have been stringing Christmas lights, holding 'drive by' birthday parties, completing outdoor craft projects, ‘chalking the walk,’ and heading out on a tiger hunt, as well as spending a great deal of time cooking, cleaning, going on walks, bike rides, and more. 

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“Thankfully, the weather is getting nicer and the days are longer, so being outdoors is more of an option now than it would have been just a few weeks ago. A friend and I have been trying to walk at Spring Lake Park each day while their kids ride bikes,” said resident Georgia Lambert, adding that she is also working on projects around the house, including painting rooms and refinishing her bathroom vanity. 

Resident Kerri Celentano and her son Logan, a second grader at Riley, have also been spending more time outdoors, riding bikes at the park and going for walks in search of shamrocks and rainbows in the windows of her neighbors. Additionally, Celentano said they’ve been watching the San Diego Zoo's live animal cams. 

Kristen Busch, a Kennedy mom with sons in kindergarten and fourth grade, is also taking advantage of  the free online programs being offered. So far, she and her kids have checked out Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems (offered through the Kennedy Center), Go Noodle, and a virtual kids bedtime meditation program with Alluem Yoga. She’s also been spending time outdoors and video chatting with family. 

Jennifer VanderWerf has been taking an online boot camp class while her daughter, Amanda, a first grader at Franklin, has joined an online martial arts class. They are also cooking, baking, going for walks, and enjoying family time on their porch.

Danielle Staunton, a mom of a Grant fifth grader and Kennedy third grader, told TAPinto she’s been doing yard work while her kids run around outside with the dogs and play on the trampoline. “I’ve also been doing household projects that I’ve been putting off, painting rooms and stripping my fireplace, organizing and cleaning,” said Staunton. 

Tricia Farrell has also been busy cleaning, cooking, baking, and cleaning some more as well as rearranging the house, coming up with honey do list projects for her husband. She and her daughter GraceAnne, a fifth grader at Grant, have also been going for walks around the neighborhood, taking car rides, and plan to go on bike rides. Farrell is also trying to catch up on shows on the DVR and admits to scrolling through Facebook too much. She also has been singing. 

“Since I’ve seen all those opera videos coming out of Italy I now think I’m an opera singer and walk around my house singing ‘Figaro Figaro’ in my opera voice very loudly,” said Farrell. “I’m real close to being evicted by my family.”

While district students can still ‘see’ and talk to their teachers and classmates through Google Meet, others are turning to FaceTime and other video messaging platforms to keep in touch with friends and family and there are plans to start up an old-fashioned pen pal letter exchange. 

“I thought it would be something productive to do that doesn’t involve electronics and something for them to look forward to,” said resident Debbie Pfeifer Pope, noting that from now though Friday, March 27, anyone interested in taking part can email the child’s name, age, address, and three things that interest them to Debbie.pope@comcast.net.

The South Plainfield School District is also looking to provide interactive ways for students to interact with one another virtually; clubs and teams are meeting virtually, a family game night is scheduled in the coming weeks, and a community event will take place later this week with information posted at www.spboe.org

If you have a fun and safe idea to share our readers let us know by emailing DCullen@Tapinto.net. We will update this article accordingly. In the meantime, here are some other ideas to help you avoid cabin fever: 

Keeping Busy During the Closure

• Visit the Library: Put your South Plainfield Library Card to use and head to http://www.southplainfield.lib.nj.us/digital.htm for free downloads of audiobooks, ebooks, newspapers, magazines, videos, TV shows, movies, music, and more 

• Keep Fit: Take a walk, rollerblade, go for a bike ride or maintain your daily workout routine with YouTube 

•  Game On: Break out puzzles, board games, and cards for a family game night (or day) 

• Get Crafty: Paint, color, try your hand at origami, scrapbook, make slime, and/or holiday decorations. 

• Virtual Visits: Take a virtual tour to anywhere with Google Earth (https://www.google.com/earth/); check out the beluga whale webcam at the Georgia Aquarium (https://www.georgiaaquarium.org/webcam/beluga-whale-webcam/); take a digital museum tour through Paris, France (https://www.louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne); watch the Cincinnati Zoo live stream daily at 3 p.m.(https://www.facebook.com/cincinnatizoo/); take a virtual field trip to Yellowstone National Park (https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/photosmultimedia/virtualtours.htm); visit the Boston Children’s Museum (https://www.bostonchildrensmuseum.org/museum-virtual-tour); travel to Mars (https://accessmars.withgoogle.com); or the Great Wall of China (https://www.thechinaguide.com/destination/great-wall-of-china)

• Binge Watch: Catch up on the DVR or check out a new series or movie 

• Log On: Learn a new language (http://www.southplainfield.lib.nj.us/dblogin.htm#rose)or how to play an instrument 

• Clean and Clear: Change your curtains; paint a room; restore a piece of furniture; clean out cabinets, closets, and drawers; make a donation pile; or work in the garden

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