The light at the end of the tunnel shines a little brighter every day, and it makes it easier to reflect on a handful of hard-won positives to emerge from the pandemic. These may not be universal truths, but some schools have unearthed opportunities from the past year’s challenges.
When given the opportunity to connect through teacher conferences, traditionally, parents could take it or leave it. After all, barriers to creating connections loomed large. Virtual school led naturally to virtual conferences, and the rest is history. One district even saw 100 percent attendance at one elementary school’s conferences!
Community engagement has bloomed, too, as residents realized the critical role schools play for families. A renewed interest in local elections bodes well for school-related ballot initiatives and board elections. And while that can bring on conflict, opposing viewpoints, and loud feedback, this supercharged engagement is still engagement.
Focus on health and hygiene
An important component of whole child education, the physical health of students (and staff!) has been tossed into the spotlight in ways we’ve never seen before. Schools have prioritized handwashing and sanitizing surfaces for the past year. Influenza numbers have trended down, possibly thanks to this increase in hygiene and adoption of mask wearing to stop the spray of fluids when people sneeze or cough. In addition, students who present any symptoms of illness have been required to stay out of school, whereas before many students would attend classes while ill.