Over the last 6 months we have slowly watched our world change. Our once stable and reliable existence was turned upside down in an instant. At the beginning of last school year, I booked a vacation for my entire 9th grade class. A week before our state went into “soft closure,” I sat at my desk, with my eyes glued to my computer monitor, watching as the world shut down, waiting to see the fate of our planned vacation.
I remember announcing to my office the closings to my office staff, not knowing when and if we would close and what would happen to my school, my families and the events we had planned. The Eiffel Tower, Disneyland, the NBA, Yellowstone, Movie Theaters, Restaurants. I watched the Covid numbers rise and the death toll rise with it. I watched the controversy and politics surrounding it. I didn’t know exactly what to believe, but I watched as my world collapse around me. It was, next to 9/11, the most somber experience I have ever had.
Then, the announcement came. Schools in our state were in soft closure effective immediately. That was the day that we had schedule to open with our school musical. Our parent son activity was planned for the next week. And with one 5 minute announcement, we were done. Students were sent home and teachers were expected to teach online.
Those first few weeks were insane. It was immediately started with helping teachers start teaching virtually with programs like Canvas, Zoom, Mastery Connect etc. I felt grateful that I had spent the year learning those programs so that I could support my faculty and parents as best I could. The first month of soft closure was spending at least 8 hours a days, 7 days a week answering questions, helping with programs, getting parents, students and faculty online. We handed out hundreds of computers. We cleaned and inventoried and did everything we would to help our families, teachers and staff.
Now we are at a different stage of Covid. We are coming out the other end of the tunnel, realizing that our view is not nearly what we are used to. I have received emails, texts, messages, and watched social media posts, all with a heavy heart as I watch teachers, parents and families express their viewpoints over how this school year will open.
I want you to all know that your voices are heard. They are VERY heard. There is no one answer. There is no easy answer. There is no answer that will please everyone. I know that the feelings of people run over the entire Covid spectrum, and every single viewpoint is valid. I see parents that are insistent that their child will not be forced to wear a mask to school, to parents that are afraid to send their kids to school regardless of our safeguards. I see teachers that are dying to come back to those that are worried about being around so many students or teaching both in class and online. I hear them all. I hear concerns that I have thought of and many that I haven’t- from ALL ends of the spectrum.
To that end, I want to express my concern and love to all of my educator and parent friends. This is what I want you to know, from a school administrator point of view:
- Your fears and concerns, no matter what they are, are being heard and discussed.
- You are loved, cared about and thought about on an individual basis.
- As soon as we have any information, it is immediately given to you. We are not holding back information.
- We have been in countless meetings trying to figure out the BEST way to accommodate all of our families, both faculty and students.
- We watch the news, keep up on press conferences, spend countless hours trying to learn the programs that you are going to be using so that we can be of assistance in any way that we can.
- We had dedicated our summer to finding better ways to serve our faculty and students.
- Every single email, text, suggestion, and critique is heard, discussed and considered.
- We are so appreciative to you and all that you do and feel grateful to work with such amazing people.
We know these are uncertain times for everyone. We wish it was different and that we were opening under much different circumstances. We do not know what the future holds. It is as unsure for us as it is for you. We are honestly doing everything we can to make this next year the best year we can, regardless of how we open and how we continue.
We may not have answers for all of your questions, but we are doing our best to find out the answers as soon as we can. Please keep asking them. We many not know the best way to do everything, but we are working on acquiring every tool and learning how to use them to help you. You may be frustrated at us for our lack of knowledge or the answers we give, but I guarantee you, we are doing the best we can to make this next school year the best that we can.
Please have a little patience and faith in us, as we are navigating our way through this. We are, in fact, trying all we can to take the burden off of you. We are not perfect, but we are trying to navigate this unknown situation as best as we can. Know this- We love you and appreciate you for the amazing dedication that you have shown. We are doing EVERYTHING in our power to keep your best interest in mind. We are in this together and will come out on the other side triumphant and solid. MUAH!