Three Things I Learned in a Covid School Year

We went into this with so much trepidation. I had no idea what it would look like, if we would make it, how long it would last. Everything was different, nothing was comfortable, and all of it was subject to change at any moment. It was as if we were stepping out onto a shaky wooden bridge, holding onto the old ropes, wondering if each board would hold as we took a step – swaying as we went along. As the year comes to a close, I think back to last Summer as we prepared for the school year. This Covid school year will be one for the history books in every way, and I learned a few big lessons:: 

The Resiliency of My Children 

When the beginning of the school year was approaching, many of us had a big decision to make. Do we pull our kids out and homeschool? Do we keep them enrolled and have them attend school virtually? Do we send them into the unknown, masks and all, into a classroom environment unlike any they’ve ever seen before? After much discussion between us as parents, we finally decided that my daughter was old enough to be brought into the fold. We let her know the choices. 

“SCHOOL.” 

“Well, hold on, Honey… you’ll have to wear a mask…”

“SCHOOL!”, she interrupted.

“But you’ll have to wear it all day, every day, and your teachers will too, and -”

“I don’t care! I wanna go to school!”

Our district had a few weeks of in home learning to kick off the new school year. We took the obligatory back to school photos – even if back to school was at home. I made her a little desk to sit at in my office, and she loved seeing some familiar faces. 

Three Things I Learned in a Covid School Year

But sending her back for real that first day in September, that was a victorious day for all of us. She basically kicked down the door of my car. It had been a long, emotional six months since that Friday they left for Spring Break and never came back. Dropping her off that morning felt like we had all climbed a mountain.

Three Things I Learned in a Covid School Year

My son – also eager to go back – didn’t mind any of the new rules. He didn’t mind his teachers in masks, temperature checks at drop off, or all the things that had changed or been taken away. He just wanted friends to play with. 

Three Things I Learned in a Covid School Year

We were celebrating, yet I was still worried about how this Covid school year would go. How soon would they all be sent home due to an outbreak? How often would she complain about the protocols? How disruptive will all of this be? And the answer to all of that, at least in our household, was nothing across the board. She didn’t complain. We were never sent home. And she has had a fantastic school year. The kids want to be together and they want to learn. She hasn’t complained about her masks to me once. 

I Can Let Go Of So Much More

As a parent, this Covid school year has been the strangest one to date. Having two children that attend two different schools, I stay fairly involved on both campuses. I volunteer when I can, I have been the homeroom parent a few times, I try to eat lunch with my kids at school a few times a semester. I’ve been the classroom reader, the party coordinator, and I’ve certainly missed being able to peek into their classrooms and get a glimpse into their day. This school year I’ve been entirely removed from all things school. I’ve not entered their school buildings once. I don’t know what their friends look like; I don’t see them in action. Last year I would get a full rundown from my son’s teacher at pickup everyday. This year we don’t have that luxury.

Yes, this has made sad at times. It’s definitely been an adjustment. However, it’s taught me how much less I could’ve been doing all this time. It’s taught me that my kids are big enough to do school without me being all up in it. It could even be helpful for them as they continue to grow in their autonomy and independence. While next year I certainly plan to be there more than this year, I don’t have to do all the things. My son can tell me himself, and I can fill in the pieces. My daughter can have a classroom life that I’m not overseeing. It’s lead to some great conversations and some great teachable moments. I can do more if I want to do more, but I don’t have to do more. 

The Brilliance of our School Faculties 

Imagine that you walked out to your driveway one morning and someone handed you your keys and said, “Hi! Time for you to drive – but one quick thing:: Your steering wheel is on the other side. And the gas pedal and brake pedals are switched and also they are on the ceiling so you have to use your hands. Oh and one more thing – you have to learn how to do all of this immediately starting right now. Good luck!” 

This is essentially what we did to our schools, teachers and staff. Administration had to solve a problem they’ve never had to solve before – a logistical nightmare – and they had to do it fast. Teachers had to learn new technologies, create a new way of doing a job they’ve done one way their entire careers, somehow authoritatively manage 25 little faces in 25 little screens, or even just learn how to teach what sounds letters make while wearing a mask. 

They adjusted and made quick changes. Before my son’s first day of school, the parents got a full, long email about the morning drop-off procedures. After Day One was finished, it was clear that the plan we were given was not going to work. It had been a disaster. Sure enough, an email came through that scrapped it and a new plan was presented. The new plan worked beautifully and I was again amazed at the quick pivot the administrative team was able to make. Throughout the year, these amazing teams in school districts throughout the country reinvented the wheel over and over and over again. I know it was exhausting and I continue to be amazed. 

We Should Celebrate this Covid School Year

I never want to forget this Covid school year. My children will tell their grandchildren about it. They will tell them about the masks and the spacing and the rules and the protocols, they will tell them because they have just lived through a Social Studies chapter. We didn’t love every change, we wished for normal on more than one occasion. Still, I was so grateful for the amazing lesson that we were able to teach our kids – that our own attitudes and our own outlook are what can make a challenging year great, even amidst adversity.

As your school year comes to a close, thank your teachers but also thank your school staff and administration. They moved mountains {and desks!} to make this year happen. Throw your kids an ice cream party for a job well done! And give yourself a round of applause, Mom. You accomplished a big task. No matter how you did it, you did it. And it’s OVER! 


 

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Jenny’s family has deep Houston roots. Raised in Cypress, this Texas girl married a Louisiana boy. While they loved their time in the Baton Rouge area - they eventually moved back to Houston in 2008, first living in the Galleria area, then slowly working their way further and further West down I-10, eventually landing in Katy where they’ve been since 2015. She has a passion for bringing people together using the power of Social Media. Today you can find her making a fool of herself on Instagram and raising Ellie {2012} and Jack {2015} with her husband Grant. She loves all things comedy, pop culture, macaroni and cheese, and writing about what brings us all together. The only thing in life that she can guarantee is that as you are reading this, there is laundry in her dryer that she is avoiding.

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