Back to School

Teachers and students have embarked (or soon will) on this strangest of school years. I believe our schools are doing their best to balance the needs of the students, the school staff, and the community.

Still, given that in most communities we’re not even close to having the kind of systems and protocols in place that would lead to success, it’s no wonder that teachers, students, and parents feel some trepidation.

I know that teachers will step up, as they always do. I’ve said before, being a high school teacher was the hardest work I’ve ever done – but also the most rewarding. Currently I work with in-service teachers and know that these folks truly care about educating our young people. Our teachers are amazing, and I wish them all the best this year.

Our students will also be making sacrifices, both big and small. I hope they all stay safe and healthy and are able to experience some sense of normalcy.

But I’ve been troubled by reactions when teachers raise questions about the safety of returning to in-person instruction, particularly in schools where lack of resources makes it tough to follow guidelines for doing so safely. A common refrain is “kick the bums out and we’ll replace them with eager young teachers who want to be there.”

The only problem is, our teachers have been disrespected for so long that there is no glut of professionals waiting to replace them. In fact, there’s a teacher shortage, and if our current educators leave (or become incapacitated due to illness) that will become even worse. The coronavirus pandemic has only added to these issues.

So teachers, students, and fellow parents – I wish us all the best. We’ll need it. And in the meantime, let’s work as a community to make things safer, not just for schools but also for grocery store workers, healthcare providers, convenience store clerks, and everyone who’s working with the public to keep our lives as close to normal as they can. We’re all in this together.