As a school administrator and teacher, there are a few things that you should know about the current situation in education.
#1 - We are as concerned as you are about this upcoming school year.
-We worry about getting the students back and their safety. We worry about our safety. We worry about the losses that students across the nation are facing - educational, social, and sometimes personal. We worry about keeping kids away from each other. We worry about keeping the kids in masks. We worry about the kids who will be in school and those that will be staying home. We worry about the parents who are so desperate to send their kids to school that they will not be truthful about whether their children are sick. We worry about all of the unknowns.
#2 - We understand your situations and we are doing everything that we can to help.
We know that some of you have very young children who cannot learn by themselves in a virtual environment. We know that some of you have older students who will choose not to learn in a virtual environment. We know that some of you are single parents. We know that you understand that there is a difference between being in school and being at home. We know that it eases your anxiety to know what your child is doing all day. We know that your child has been depressed, or lonely, or angry, or full of energy, or bored, bored, bored. We know that you worry about how much technology your child is using daily.
#3 - We only have limited control over the final decisions, whether to learn at home or in the school building (or on school grounds, in some cases.)
The states and counties are making some of the decisions. Most if not all schools have some sort of committee working very hard to determine the safety of having “x” number of students in the limited space of the available school facilities. Those committees will ultimately determine what is possible. We are looking at using music rooms, gymnasiums, conference rooms, tents, trailers, and even faculty rooms as learning spaces to accommodate students in a safe and socially distant way. We are considering using marked ribbon or string to walk in the hallways, staggering dismissal and class rotation times, splitting classes into cohorts, changing schedules to accommodate different students on different days, and eating lunches in classrooms. We continue to discuss the situation daily in attempts to be prepared for whatever ultimate decision is handed to us regarding the start of school.
#4 - We love your children and want to see them.
This is why we are so concerned about making the right decisions about the school year. Students make our jobs as amazing and fulfilling as they are. As is often joked about, we are not here for the money! Inservice days are the worst! We turn into the children that are fidgety and tired and not paying attention as we sit and listen to someone drone on about the plans for the upcoming semester. We want to see the kids. We want to hear about your brother that just flew in from Omaha and brought stuffed animals for everyone, but not the right kind. That is our opportunity to remind your child that they are blessed and should be grateful. We want to hear the “impatient cow” knock-knock joke for the hundredth time because the way your child’s face lights up when they tell it makes us forget about the madness of rush hour. And most of all, we want to teach! Teaching allows us to see your child’s strengths. It allows us to watch the learner become the teacher. It allows us to watch the child who wouldn’t ask a question in the beginning of the year grow enough to tell a story to the entire class. Teaching allows us to see the magic that every single student brings to the table. Teaching is our calling. We all hope to be able to teach again, safely and in person, very soon!