On February 15, 2021 all students will be returning to in person learning here in Wake County, North Carolina. Wake County, home to the capital city of Raleigh is the largest school district with over 160,000 students in 191 schools and also ranks as the 14th largest school district in the United States.
I work in 1 of those 191 schools, in Millbrook High School at the service of over 2,000 students. Outside of coaching Varsity Men's Basketball, I am typically tasked with being a level of intervention for students. My daily duties include mentoring students and other school personnel with their duties as it pertains to the students. It's not a position that most schools have but it has definitely proven to be beneficial to the 2 schools I've worked at in the past decade.
It's obvious that this school year looks different for everyone. Parents have to adjust their schedules, teachers have to adjust their techniques, but most importantly the students have to adjust to it all. Most educators and school staff fall under 2 of those categories; as parents adjusting their homes for their children, as well as professionals maneuvering the new teaching environments. As a father of 3, of which 2 who attend Wake County Public schools, I know too many of these struggles first hand.
The decision made to send students back to school hasn't been well received by all those who it will affect. I know some parents who are ready to move into the next phase of regaining our normalcy and see this as a major move in that direction. I've spoken with teachers who, though they really miss having students in person, still don't feel we are fully ready for them to return. More importantly, I've asked several students "are you ready to come back" and I've gotten mixed responses like "yes, I'm so ready to get out of the house", "no, I'm not ready to adjust my life back", and "yes, if I can get vaccinated".
Parents still have the option to keep their children virtual if we choose. Even though it wasn't a popular decision with my children, my wife and I opted to keep our 2 at home to learn virtually for the remainder of the school year. I know first hand the practices and procedures we've put in place to make in person learning as safe as possible but we all know that there are many unknowns.
No one has all the answers for what we are up against nor can we assume that our respective opinions are the correct way that it should be. The majority of these opinions and decisions have come from the adults who assume we are doing what's best for the children. However, we still don't know and only time will tell. What I do know at this moment is, our students will not only be affected today, they'll be affected by this long term. They'll become adults and look back on this and analyze how we handled it while they were in our care.
What will they say about you?