It is hard to believe that schools and businesses have been working through health and safety plans for two years now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I do not think any of us could have predicted that we would be in such a crazy set of circumstances like we have experienced.
Here at Lakeside, we’ve had to re-shape our schools, our cleaning routines, wear masks, limit our van occupants, deal with testing, vaccines and therapeutics, lose loved ones and friends, live through virtual learning, create social distancing in classrooms and watch many students drop out of school.
In the past few days, the CDC has restructured its criteria for these health and safety plans. Our own county is now in the medium category and now our region and schools have or soon will become mask optional. We are able to wear masks if we wish but we are no longer required to do so. This is due to the low transmission rate of our region and is a huge relief, allowing us to actually see facial expressions again which are so important to relationships.
When I think of all that our staff and students have gone through it is rather remarkable. They have endured so much in virtual education, changes in protocols, testing, etc. etc. We haven’t even been able to have normal cafeteria lunches for two years. School as we knew it has not existed and now it is our chance to return to some normalcy.
As good as this sounds it will probably have some very interesting reactions. We have lived in so much fear that it may feel very vulnerable to be back to a more normal school environment. We will continue to have protocols for cleaning and other measures of health and safety but now we have some room to recreate school as it should be. I personally am relieved and thankful.
Most of all I appreciate our staff at Lakeside and the schools across our country for all the sacrifices they have made. I also am appreciative of the many concerns our parents and caregivers have had to deal with to navigate so many different issues with their children. Additionally our students have had so many new stressors to navigate through this pandemic and have been left with anxiety, depression and other mental health related matters.
It is my sincere hope that we will not have any more variants like the last one which is something that we cannot completely predict. However, we can use the current opportunity to help our students, teachers and parents release some anxiety and enjoy the new normal that we have not seen for two years. Finally, we have some sense of life without all the intense levels of transmission and health and safety protocols. I trust we will continue to be safe, care for each other and now move forward in our schools with a new hope for more normal academic environments.