The first day of any school year is always exciting, but this year it is especially so for teachers and students who have missed seeing each other in person since the schools closed for the coronavirus in March.
With all the changes - social distancing, sanitizing, and virtual classrooms - there’s likely to be a few bumps and rough patches along the way, but we need to extend some grace to the schools as they work out the challenges this new normal will present.
For many parents, the choice to send their child back to school or not has been a difficult one. Children do need to be around other students, but many homes also have grandparents or other family members who are vulnerable to this disease. There are also many students who depend on the schools for lunch every day and parents who do not have daycare options to keep students home to learn. Whatever choices parents have made, we owe them grace, too, for making choices that best fit their children and families.
In other states where students have already returned to schools, there have been some instances where schools have had to shut down again because of the coronavirus. We must remain vigilant as a community - wearing masks, social distancing, practicing good hygiene - to ensure that does not happen here. Our children do not live or learn in a bubble; each of us has a responsibility to do our part to stop the community spread of this virus.
Finally, a thank you to our teachers. Your job is never an easy one, even without a novel coronavirus. We trust our most precious gifts - our children - into your safekeeping. You nurture them, teach them and guide them. And this year, we’re asking you to do all that, sometimes from a distance, and with extra safety protocols in place. Over the summer, we’ve seen your enthusiasm to get back to doing the jobs you love and embracing whatever steps it takes to do so.
With the coronavirus still out there, this school year is going to be like no other, but we salute our teachers, students, and school staff for all they are doing to create safe learning environments for our children.