So after nearly six months at home, students at Carroll Academy, Winona Christian School, and Winona-Montgomery Consolidated School District returned to campus this past week. Carroll County Schools will return next Monday, August 17.
Even with the new safety precautions established to combat COVID-19, when I pulled into the drive at Winona Christian School to drop off my son, Dean, on his first day of school, it seemed like any other first day of school. Seniors were gathered behind a sign announcing “Welcome to your last first day,” and a group of parents were busy snapping photos. The only way you could tell things were a little different were by the face masks.
Dean and I were actually on time Monday (wonders never cease), arriving 15 minutes early and waiting as parents dropped their children off at various points on campus. Dean was so excited about returning to school and seeing all of his friends, he barely said goodbye as he ran for Mrs. Susan Davis’ second grade classroom.
As I waved from the window, something caught my attention – something I haven’t heard in quite some time. Children were laughing and talking as they moved around the breezeway behind the school, with backpacks slung over shoulders and new shoes tapping against the pavement. It was the sweetest sound I have heard in months.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so many things in our lives. We no longer hug each other in greeting, which is so much a part of life here in the South. Many of us no longer worship in person but tune into a live stream on the internet. Dining out has its own challenges, with regulations on seating, occupancy, and service. Masks are mandatory in every public building in the state.
Many people avoid public places – even shopping for food. Others endure great anxiety about the possibility of contracting the virus. Some refuse to let the pandemic interfere with how they live their lives.
But these kids – they are resilient. According to a few teacher friends, their students are adapting to the changes at school very well. That is what I learned that first day when I picked up Dean.
Dean was practically vibrating from excitement after a great first day.
“When I got there, Mrs. Davis had coloring sheets for us, and then we did a ‘baby’ math sheet, which was so easy,” he told me. “Then we went to lunch, and played on the playground.”
I’m sure there was much more in between those highlights, but he had a great day. And he was so happy to be back at school with his friends.
I know some parents have elected to do distance learning this year, as each family has its own set of circumstances. Some believe face-to-face instruction is the way to go. One thing is for certain, our children have to get an education regardless of the method.
What parents need to keep in mind is that our teachers are working overtime to accommodate every student whether they are learning at school or at home. Producing dual lessons is twice the work although they aren’t receiving twice the pay.
When I think of everyday heroes, teachers are always on the top of my list. I would not be where I am today without the influence of some fantastic teachers who took the time to nurture the things I did best.
We don’t know what tomorrow will bring – literally and figuratively. There is a possibility that schools could be shut down again, and every student will be learning from home. There is also a possibility that as school days return to normal maybe everything else will follow.
So as the school year moves forward, be patient and understanding if things change suddenly. The administration and faculty at our schools are working hard to foresee anything and everything that might happen tomorrow, next week, next month. We all need to let them know we appreciate them for their efforts to educate and protect our children.