November 10, 2020
Needless to say this fall may be singularly unique in the annals of history. This is possibly a hyperbolic statement, but it may be not far from the truth. What effect does the combination of a pandemic, a fractious political climate, and the conversations surrounding social justice have on our children? Again the answer to this may not be known for some time, but we can start to make some sense based on where we are as a school and observations made from around the campus.
First and foremost we are lucky. We have a campus that allows us to keep our students as safe as possible because we can space them out, be outside, and we have constituencies that respect the safety protocols. The result has been an uninterrupted run of school days that has allowed our students to regain their social and academic footing. We know that not all school children in all school communities are this fortunate. We as adults in the community should be mindful of this.
Second, the overwhelming feeling amongst the children is joy. While not expressed in such an adult way, it is manifested by children eagerly exiting their cars in morning, digging into their work, and being outside like never before. They are free to express themselves through play, work, and social interactions on a daily basis. In those moments they are not thinking about wearing a mask to protect themselves from a virus, but rather that this is what we do to be at school. The community has become a beehive of activity with nearly all the children playing or working outside at any given time. The interplay between our children and their teachers is invigorating, and staff are so glad to see each other on a daily basis. This feeling has not ebbed twelve weeks into the school year.
Third, we continue to look for ways to support our children in developmentally appropriate ways in order to continually exhibit grace and courtesy, and to understand what civil discourse looks and sounds like. The adults in this community have gone to great lengths to model this behavior, and to remind the children about their responsibilities.
Fourth, Fridays have taken on a whole new meaning. By the end of the week, our community is stretched. Teachers and staff are working hard to educate and protect children on a daily basis, while simultaneously making sure they are making safe decisions outside of school for their families. Similarly, our families are grappling with life decisions that don’t go away during a pandemic. The sum total of this can be exhaustion. We all need to take care of ourselves and look for ways to reflect and refresh (safely of course).
Lastly, while our students may not be directly participating in the dynamics that are coursing through our communities, they indirectly feel it, and as they grow, they will ultimately will have to enter into the pulse of our country. The youth of today inherit the world from adults, and it is our obligation as educators and caregivers to take this responsibility seriously.
This fall at Riverbend, while the first of its kind, has shown that we are resilient, collaborative, and that we genuinely care about one another. What is not to like about that?